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Animal Updates | Mammals | Conservation | Education | Whale Watching

Thursday, February 06, 2014


An awesome breaching gray!  | Aquarium of the Pacific

As we conclude the first month of 2014, we can truly say that it has been a fantastic month of whale watching! January has been the peak month where many of the southbound whales have been sighted. As mentioned in earlier blogs,we have had record breaking sightings of southbound grays. This may just mean that many are traveling south to Baja at the same time, but whatever the reason, we are happy to see so many big healthy whales within the Pacific gray whale population!

Something else that we have been sighting more during our whale watches than any other year is an incredible amount of breaching. As I am writing this, we have had five consecutive days of juvenile or sub-adult gray whales leaping out of the water, exposing most of their body and landing on their side or back. It has delighted so many of our guests and we, as the crew and educators, get very excited, as well! If you folks ever see the people who work on a whale watch boat trying to get videos of the trip and getting excited, that is when you KNOW it’s a phenomenal trip!

Also, we had a juvenile gray whale swim right up to the boat and under it a few days ago! This playful behavior, which is normal gray whale behavior, is usually seen most often at their final destination in Baja, but we are seeing it a lot this year on our whale watches. There have been theories as to why the gray whale migration seems to be ever-changing, and one is while our polar ice is melting, they are spending more time finding food to gain the six-to-ten-inch-thick layer of blubber they need to provide energy for the trip. This may cause more pregnant females to give birth along the way and even an increase in mating behavior en route. Many of our breachers have been young whales who may be trying to impress the opposite sex or just having fun being a young whale. One of our sightings was with a couple of adult whales rolling around each other, which looked like courtship; frisky behavior north of the border! Speaking of, we have also seen a few cow/calf pairs, as well, and we always love seeing those baby grays.

In other baleen whale news, we have been seeing multiple fin whales and even some lunge feeding. Many people have not heard of a fin whale, or finback whale, so this might be your opportunity to see our infamous migratory grays AND the second largest whale on Earth on the same trip.

Toothed whales have also been giving guests a thrill, as they leap, porpoise, and play with the boat. Common, bottlenose, Pacific white-sided, and Risso’s dolphins (pretty much all of our year-round and seasonal species) have been sighted frequently. Sometimes we come across a nursery pod of commons or bottlenose dolphins with fifty or more calves!

Want to see whales and be moved by their sheer size and graceful, gentle presence? Then come on board and we will show you our favorite giants! This also the time of year that we have a higher chance of seeing killer whales and humpbacks. Every trip is different. See you on the boat!

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