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An Early Showing for the Gray Whales This Season?

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Whale Watching | Mammals

Wednesday, December 01, 2010


On November 20, 2010 we switched from our Dolphin and Sea Life Cruises to Gray Whale Watch. Although the major flux isn’t until usually until later in the season, the pregnant females are the first to head south and we could start seeing them at any time.

Probably one of the most known whales in California is the gray whale. Even during the summer time when we’re looking at blue whales, people sometime get confused as to which whale is the one with the long migration that passes by. Although most whales do some form of migration, it’s the winter time gray whales that are known for their extensive journeys.

Each winter, gray whales will travel down to the lagoons in Mexico where they will hang out and avoid the freezing northern waters. The northern waters are important because this is their feeding grounds for the summer that allows them to bulk up and sustain themselves for the migration and pregnancy in the case of the females. The water up north is too cold for the gray whales to have babies so they will come down south to the warmer waters and give birth or mate for the following year’s winter. This is when we see the gray whales passing by California. We get two chances to see them, one going south, and then again coming back north. Typically we see more gray whales because the new mothers are traveling with their new babies.

Although the season is just beginning, there’s a chance that we can start seeing a good flux of them right away. I’ve heard reports that the first gray whales have been spotted up around Monterey Bay! That means that the pregnant females are very close! Gray whales can travel about 100 miles a day at a speed of 3-5 knots. One knot is 1.15mph. If the sightings were correct, that puts the first gray whales past us meaning there are for sure more close behind!

If you’d like to try and spot some of the first gray whales of the season, we’re out they’re looking every day. We’ve been seeing a lot of fin whales to hold us over and ton of dolphins! There’s also a new discounted 9:00 a.m. whale watch trip that’s been added on the weekends!

An Early Showing for the Gray Whales This Season?
The color's on the gray whale will vary with scarring they get from barnacles that attach during their migration.  | Kera Mathes
An Early Showing for the Gray Whales This Season?
The gray whale does frequent deep dives, often times showing its fluke, or tail.  | Kera Mathes
An Early Showing for the Gray Whales This Season?
The fin whale is seen often during this time as well. We've been seeing a few hanging around the last two weeks!  | Kera Mathes

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Richard Lolla

Friday, December 03, 2010 02:54 AM

Do you have any information about Fin whale social behavoir? For example are the pods matriarchial? Any suggestions fro references to understand Fin Whale mating behaviors?

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Thursday, December 09, 2010 10:47 PM

Hi, Richard.  You know, there isn’t much information available on fin whale social behavior yet!  I also have not heard of any documented cases of fin whale mating.  It’s similar to the blue whales.  They don’t know where the largest animal in the world mates or gives birth.  It’s pretty much the same story with the fins. The population of fin whales we have off of Southern California scientist think travel between here and Mexico.  Their research is just now starting to target more fin whales. As the data starts to come in, hopefully we’ll learn a lot more about them.  And when we do, I promise to blog about it!

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Monday, December 13, 2010 02:21 AM

When does the whale watching season end, and does it move right in to somthing else to see?

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