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Fin Whale Fun!

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Animal Updates | Mammals | Whale Watching

Thursday, November 09, 2017

James S.

Fin whale blowholes and rostrum - popup
Fin whale blowholes and rostrum Aquarium of the Pacific

Hello whale friends! I hope your Halloween went well and that Thanksgiving doesn’t sneak up on you too fast. It’s been a lot more exciting on the water lately, we’ve had a lot of fin whale sightings, humpbacks, bottlenose dolphins, tons of common dolphins, and even a shark! We caught sight of a blue shark that actually hung out at the surface for a few minutes. Normally when we spot a shark they fairly quickly take notice and leave, but this shark hung around for a little while and we were able to get some photos and video of such a beautiful animal.

But back to whales! With the change in temperatures we’ll start to see some different species. There’s been reports of gray whales in central California, orca have been moving up and down the coastline (not where we could see them unfortunately), and the fin whales are showing back up. If you remember our previous blogs on fin whales they don’t migrate like other whales do, north-south, at least that we know of. It is possible that they move more near shore to offshore and we typically have a higher number of sightings during our fall to spring seasons.

If you’ve never seen a fin whale before, the signs that we look for when we’re out on the boat are: tall cone shaped blow (like blue whales), darker body color with chevrons on the top, and their very large dorsal fin. Once we’re closer you can see the light color of the right side of their jaw. Jaw color helps us distinguish fin whales from other species with similar features. With fin whales, often called fin-back whales, their blow is sighted first then part of their back and eventually their dorsal fin as they surface. Their individual features during their time at the surface should provide enough information to identify a whale as a fin whale.

Also exciting news! We spotted our first gray whale of the season on the 7th, and there are reports from whale watchers in central California that more are on the way. So if you’ve been waiting to see gray whales, they might be arriving fairly soon. We’re also going to highlight our first intern for the fall season, Shelby has worked with the Aquarium on multiple projects. If you see her out on the boat make sure to say hi and ask her about her work here.

My name is Shelby Flowers and I am currently a fall intern for the Marine Mammal ID. I have volunteered with the Aquarium of the Pacific for 2 years and I am involved with 3 citizen scientist programs. I am going to school for my 3rd bachelors degree with the goal of obtaining a masters in oceanography. My dream job would be conducting research that would help aid in the conservation and protection of the ocean and all of its inhabitants. My favorite memory during this internship, thus far, was seeing a humpback whale breach.

Don’t forget to check out our website to get your combo tickets to the Aquarium of the Pacific and Harbor Breeze Cruises.See you on the water!