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April Recap & the Return of the Killer Whales!

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Animal Updates | Mammals | Conservation | Education | Whale Watching

Thursday, May 15, 2014


April Recap & the Return of the Killer Whales!
Biggs Killer Whale sighting  | Aquarium of the Pacific

Gray whale season is winding down but we had a pretty exciting April with around 36 cow/calf pairs of grays heading back up north so the females can eat again and wean their calves. Though April is the month to see the cow/calf pairs, we were fortunate to see a few playful and frisky juveniles, and even some playing and rolling around in the kelp along the coast by Palos Verdes. We had one spectacular tour where we spotted 4 different groups of grays all in a thirty minute period; 3 cow/calf pairs and a small group of rolling juveniles. We have also been surprised by more humpback sightings and even one killer whale sighing on the 23rd, with over seven individuals! These were transient, or Biggs killer whales, that we often see and their last sighting in our area was on January 1st. When our boat heard the call of their presence, we went straight toward them and found them in what seemed to be “hunting mode” a few hundred yards from our boat. Though the whales seemed a little distracted they were a treat for the educators on board and the guests who had never seen them in the wild before. It is always pretty incredible just to be in the presence of their intelligence and we are even lucky enough sometimes to witness their cooperative hunting behavior.

We also had several very rare sightings of a brown booby! This booby bird found a nice buoy that it was perched upon for several days. This beautiful bird delighted many guests and birders who came to see this rare find. We seldom see these birds in our waters, since they are primarily a tropical species. We took many photos of it resting on the buoy and even caught some photos of it flying around.

We have also had dolphins galore including Risso’s, bottlenose, Pacific white sided, and thousands of commons. Feeding frenzies with dolphins, numerous marine bird species, and sea lions have often been spotted during our tours and this seems to really bring the tour up an energy notch. The dolphin’s fluid, torpedo-like movements and high energy behaviors are so contagious and you can’t help but smile.

As we begin our May tours we have already seen more cow/calf pairs of grays, fins, more very playful humpbacks and even a report of a blue whale!

As we say goodbye to the grays we eagerly await the coming of the blues and their season which we will be kicking off Memorial Day weekend. The weather is warming up and we are always seeing something exciting and breathtaking out on the water, so come on out on an adventure with us! See you on the water!

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