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A New Whale Watch Blogger

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Animal Updates | Mammals | Conservation | Whale Watching

Friday, July 13, 2012

Julien

With New Whale Watch Experiences!

Hello everybody! My name is Julien Christopher and I have been an educator at the Aquarium of the Pacific for a little over two years now. I am very excited to be contributing to the whale watch blogs! My degree is in marine science from the University of Hawaii at Hilo where I devoted a lot of my extracurricular activities and employment working with local endangered species including the Hawaiian green sea turtles and the Hawaiian monk seals through stranding response networks. This exposure and love for marine mammals continues today with my amazing opportunity as a naturalist on the whale watch boats at the Aquarium. I have been whale watching for over a year now and have so many memorable moments. To name a few; seeing a gray whale for the first time, seeing HUGE pacific sun fish (Mola mola), seeing blue whales for my first time lunge feeding at the surface and seeing their eyes and baleen plates right next to the boat, seeing humpback whales in California waters instead of the Hawaiian waters I am used to, and seeing ORCAS! The whale watch trips have been one of the true highlights of my job here as an education associate.

In the past couple of weeks we have been seeing some spectacular dolphin activity from our local species of dolphins, the common and the bottlenose. Not only have we been seeing large pods and tons of babies of these less illusive dolphins, we have been seeing Risso’s dolphins as well! These dolphins are a sight to see! They look very different from other dolphins with long bottle-like rostrums; these dolphins have more of a flat face! They have long beautiful dorsal fins and can be quite shy! Their backs are white with scars because they can be very aggressive towards each other.

We were lucky enough, on July 6th, to even encounter a cow/calf pair of humpback whales. These whales always bring a smile to everyone’s faces because they are so active. They are known to show their flukes and to breech out of the water often and they did just that. Our local stock of humpback whales migrate to warmer waters off Central America and Mexico during the winter months and back up to coastal California waters around the spring and summer months. They are very beautiful and playful whales to encounter and have very distinct features like their extremely long pectoral fins which are the longest appendages on any animal in the world. Their fins can be as long as 1/3 of their 50 foot long bodies! They also have that distinct dorsal ridge of ‘humpy back’ along their dorsal side. I can’t wait for my future trips on the whale watches and hope to see the magnificent blue whales in the near future!

A New Whale Watch Blogger
Some of the common dolphins we've been seen swimming quickly by the boat.  | Aquarium of the Pacific
A New Whale Watch Blogger
These are Risso's dolphins. We see them commonly in the summer!  | Aquarium of the Pacific
A New Whale Watch Blogger
A bottlenose dolphin approaches the boats.  | Aquarium of the Pacific

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