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Beautiful Summer of Whales

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Animal Updates | Mammals | Whale Watching

Thursday, August 01, 2019

James S.

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Blue whale blow with the Long Beach Port in the background Aquarium of the Pacific

Our summer has been a busy one, the interns have all been very busy on the boats and inside the building. We had a very strong May and June with our blue whale sightings, and then we had a multitude of other species showing up when the blue whale sightings calmed down. There’s been a number of fin whales, humpbacks, A LOT of dolphins in the area including visits by the Risso’s dolphins. Plenty of ocean sunfish, sharks, and swordfish too! It’s been a great summer of sea life.

One of the awesome things we were able to participate in this summer is the work being done by Cascadia Research Collective. Their lead researcher, John Calambokidis, was in town looking for blue whales they could put a GPS and telemetry suction tag onto. The technology people are able to use to monitor whales is incredible, not only can we track where in the ocean they move but we can examine the depth, spins, and turns all in a 3D readout what whales are doing while they dive. Unfortunately, we weren’t on board while John C was doing this but we updated them on coordinates of recent sightings and the captains with Harbor Breeze Cruises were in radio contact as much as they could to help them find a whale. The details they were able to pull from the tag’s data is going to be published in a future paper but they were able to learn so many new things about a whale they already had in their catalog for many years.

Our photo ID interns this summer had a slightly different project than we normally ask of them. Our whale and marine mammal interpretation cart has been given a little face-lift and we have added a number of new teaching and interpretation tools to this station, including some real whale bones! We use this mobile station to show our guests all the magnificent things we’ve learned about whales and it is typically staffed by our education volunteers, but the interns joined them this summer to talk to guests about our photo ID program. Science communication is very important and being able to get the interns to more actively practice their public communication in the Great Hall beneath our life-size blue whale model has been great.