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Early blue whales in California!

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Animal Updates | Mammals | Whale Watching

Thursday, May 25, 2017

James S.

Close up of blue whale blowholes and blow - popup
Close up of blue whale blowholes and blow Aquarium of the Pacific

Hello everyone! It’s been a lot of fun out on the boats the last couple of weeks. Our new interns have all started and are doing an amazing job. Right away they were learning how to process and identify blue whales for Cascadia Research Collective. Nature decided not to let them ease into the program. But that makes it fun for our guests to get to see the largest animal that we know of to have ever existed on our planet. We’ve had great sightings of dolphins, humpbacks, blue whales, fin whales, and even caught sight of a minke! It’s been a while since our naturalists have been able to mention minke whales during the whale watches. Unfortunately the sighting was so quick we didn’t get a photo of it, just like those minkes to sneak away before we can snap any photos.

Working with our interns to start identifying our blue whale sightings we’ve learned that there were at least two different whales that made an early visit to our local waters to feed and wait before moving on to their next stop on their migration route. Blue whales that show up in our area during the summer are migrating from Alaskan waters down to Mexico and Central America. There is new evidence being collected from photo ID work that shows that there probably are many more blue whales becoming residents of certain regions and stop migrating.

Humpback whales are also in their migration from warmer winter waters to the cooler waters in the summer. There is a lot of research going into humpback migration, while we know the start and stop points for sub populations, new research is showing that humpback whales are changing routes and sub populations may overlap ranges with other humpback whale groups. So while we have a fairly clear idea of what the humpbacks are doing, the year to year variance in migration paths among individuals is greater than scientists previously thought.

If you have been waiting for the summer to get out on the water, it’s been a lot of fun and pretty active lately. It’s always a great day to get out on the water, but summer is our blue whale season and we’re hoping for a really good season since we’re long out of the El Nino event of 2015-2016. Our naturalists even reported that there were krill patches so large and dense that they could see the krill in the water a few days ago! Come on down to Long Beach and get a combo ticket for the Aquarium of the Pacific and Harbor Breeze Cruises.

See you on the water!