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Farewell May Grays!

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Animal Updates | Mammals | Conservation | Education

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Julien

The first few weeks of May have given us the final glimpses of our Pacific gray whales and many cow/calf pairs! Since the first we have had nine sightings of gray whales, eight of which were females and young calves. We have been lucky enough to have some very special and intimate moments with the baby grays and their mothers. All in all it has been a fantastic gray whale season and our numbers are bigger than ever. Though we are not seeing many grays pass us by to head back to their feeding grounds up north at this time, we may still see some stragglers in the next few weeks.

Since we have started the official blue whale season on May 1st, we have yet to sight one here in Long Beach, but there have been some local sightings. This means that any day they could be here to show us their amazing filter feeding skills soon! As long as our water stays cool this summer, we will have a better chance of having more krill-filled waters off of our coast and more blue whale filled waters too! Two minke whales were spotted on the other side of the oil rigs on one whale watch occasion. These whales are the smallest of our local baleen whale species only reaching around 30 feet in length and are usually very skittish. Few sightings that lasted longer than a few minutes have ever been reported on our whale watches but sometimes we will get a curious individual.

The dolphin species in our area have really been taking over the show in the last few weeks. We have been seeing some incredible dolphin feeding behavior on our trips and were even able to catch some of it on our cameras. The local common dolphins have been seen frequently around massive congregations of birds feeding on small fish. Dolphins have amazing feeding behaviors including slapping the water with their flukes to stun their prey, chasing them down at up to 40mph and corralling the fish into a bait ball while they take turns lunging to feed. It is quite a sight to witness the dolphins slapping and corralling their prey as the local marine birds such as pelicans, gulls and migratory terns dive to collect the fish who are being persuaded to the surface by the small toothed whales. Dolphins are pretty opportunistic feeders and feed whenever they can on a multiple variety of bounty including small fish, squid, and crustaceans. One trip we even witnessed a few bottlenose dolphins feeding on and playing with what looked like a halibut!

If you would like to search for blue whales and playful dolphins come on out for an adventure on the water! We hope to see you soon!

Farewell May Grays!
A gray whale calf glancing at the boat as its mother travels close by.  | Aquarium of the Pacific
Farewell May Grays!
A gorgeous shot of an adult gray whale's fluke gracefully emerging from the water.  | Aquarium of the Pacific
Farewell May Grays!
Birds and common dolphins feeding on a bait ball.  | Aquarium of the Pacific
Farewell May Grays!
A bottlenose dolphin playing with a halibut before eating it.  | Aquarium of the Pacific

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