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A Repeat of Last Year?

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Animal Updates | Mammals | Whale Watching

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Kera

I sure hope so!

In August and September of 2010, we had some of the best days of blue whale watching I’ve ever seen! Late last August the whale sightings started to increase quite a bit. At first it was 12 whales, then 15, and eventually we got up to over 20 whales! Although we’re a few weeks later into the season from last year, it looks like we’re up for a repeat of this massive gathering of whales!

Last week we started seeing a large chunk of blues moving into the area. Most of our trips have had on average 6-10 whales, which is a pretty good trip if you ask me! Last week, however, it started jumping up where we saw up to 19 whales on one trip and then over the weekend, between two boats, saw around 25 whales!

If you’re wondering why there are all these whales in the area, there’s only one real reason…food. Blue whales feed on krill, which is a small shrimp like animal. We live in an area that has a lot of upwelling. That’s where deep nutrient rich water is cycled to the top of the ocean. This is really important because that nutrient rich water is what drives the krill. When we get a lot of krill in the area, the blue whales move in and start to feast.

Because blue whales are a type of baleen whale, they’re able to efficiently feed on these small animals and sustain their huge size! The baleen in their mouth works as a filter, so when the blue whales engulf 17,000 gallons of water and krill, they can easily push the water out of their mouth and swallow all the krill that are left behind in the mouth and baleen. This allows the blue whales to eat up to 40 million krill a day!

If this year continues to follow suit of last year, we’re going to be in for quite a treat in the next few weeks. It’s always an adventure when you head out on the boats. You never know what the whales will do or what show you’re going to see. I can only hope that if this year ends up as last year did, I’ll be on the boats that end up with the best shows of the year.

A Repeat of Last Year?
This is a great look at a blue whale right before it surfaces. You can see a good portion of the body under the water!  | Brittany Munson
A Repeat of Last Year?
The red in the water is digested krill showing that the whales are feeding on krill! After it leaves this behind, it shows its fluke and goes on a deep dive.  | Kera Mathes

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