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A Killer Start to 2014…Again!

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Animal Updates | Mammals | Conservation | Education | Whale Watching

Thursday, January 23, 2014


A Killer Start to 2014…Again!
The CA51 pod along with their extended family sighted on New Years Day  | Aquarium of the Pacifc

Happy New Year, Whale Fans!

The first day of the New Year started off with another sighting of the Bigg’s killer whales! Like clockwork, these beautiful whales graced us with their presence yet again on New Year’s Day. This will be the third consecutive year they have been sighted on our whale watches on this exact day. As always, it was not just the CA51’s immediate family but their extended family as well according to killer whale expert Alisa Schulman-Janiger of the California Killer Whale Project and the ACS/LA Gray Whale Census and Behavior Project. Normally when we spot this pod we have just see the immediate family which includes the two females (one being the matriarch CA51) one adult male and a juvenile. This time there were more adults mixed in with a new calf as well! Maybe it’s an annual family reunion?? A few days prior, during the last few days of the year, they were spotted off of Santa Barbara, so we were patiently awaiting their usual January 1st arrival.

In sperm whale news, we have not seen the infamous ‘Mango’ since December but we are still on the lookout for him and other rare sightings. The fin whales have been giving us a great show and even been doing some lunge feeding on some of our more recent trips. On a few of the trips we have even seen a fin whale cow and her calf, which is always nice to see. We have yet to see any gray whale calves on our trip, but several have been sighted from Point Vicente during the gray whale census according to Alisa Schulman-Janiger! The gray whale cows try to reach the warmer waters to give birth, but many actually have their calves along the way. On average, they gestate for about twelve months and the calves are born at about fifteen feet long and weigh around fifteen hundred pounds. Several grays a day have been spotted from the census and they have been sighting a record number of these southbounders from the census. At this point, it’s been about thirty years since we have had this number of southbound whales. Our whale watch trips have been very successful as well with several per day! Mating behavior like rolling and active behavior such as breaching have also been witnessed within the last couple of weeks.

The toothed whales have also been out and about giving us great excitements during the trip and even bow riding the gray whales and fin whales! A huge pod of Risso’s, of about 40 or more, were sighted recently breaching and proposing alongside the boat. This is not usual behavior we see from Risso’s and usually only see these large, thirteen foot dolphins when there is squid in the neighborhood. Bottlenose and common dolphins never fail to amuse the guests with their high energy behavior and curiosity of the boats.

Now that you all know the secret of the Bigg’s killer whale sightings on the 1st of the year, I hope you all come out on the boat to see us that day, but don’t wait a whole year! Reserve your spot for you and your family to come see the southbound grays, and soon we will see some mother whales and their newborns head back to Alaska. See you soon!

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