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Blue Whales, Fin Whales, and Humpbacks!

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Whale Watching

Friday, June 22, 2018

James S.

Blue whale blow - popup
Blue whale blow Aquarium of the Pacific

Hello everyone, sorry for the gap in the blog entries. Our new interns have started working on the whale watches so we’re finally getting some pictures back in to the database to share with you all. It’s been pretty exciting with all of the fin whales, the few humpbacks we’ve seen, dolphins, molas, and of course the blue whales! Our May and early June were very busy with blue whales, hopefully our numbers will stay high throughout the summer.

If you’ve wondered why the whales were not around last year, it’s partially due to water temperatures. When the summer waters are too warm the upwelling that feeds our waters with rich nutrients can slow down and come to a complete halt in some cases. When that happens there’s going to be fewer plankton for the krill to eat, which means less krill. The whales will follow the food, and since they extended their northern feeding range it’s safe to assume that’s where the food was waiting to be found by the blue whales. Summer is their feeding season, and Southern California has been a feeding ground for the largest animal for a number of years now. After the whales are done feeding they will start migrating south towards Mexico and Central America to their breeding grounds.

It’s hard to follow blue whales compared to the gray whales we see. The blue whale is much more likely to move way out to the open ocean, even for breeding and birthing. The gray whales can venture well over 20 miles off shore, but blue whales may go hundreds of miles off shore! Scientists have maybe filmed or witnessed the fist few hours of life of a blue whale a few times. The area near Costa Rica called the Costa Rica Dome is larger than many of the states in the U.S. making it difficult to visually monitor these beautiful animals. Instead of only relying on seeing the whales, researchers have tagged them here in California and then monitored the GPS track of the whales as they move south.

We’ll keep you all updated on the status of our blue whale sightings. But why wait? Come on down to Long Beach and visit the Aquarium of the Pacific with a combo ticket for the Aquarium and Harbor Breeze Cruises. Whale watches depart every day at 12 and 3 and you can explore over 11,000 animals inside the Aquarium.

See you out on the water!