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Getting Questions Answered About Blue Whales from an Expert

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Whale Watching | Mammals

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Kera

It’s coming up on that time again…blue whales! For the last two summers, there have been more blue whales here than there ever have been in previous years. Normally the first whale is spotted sometime in June, and then by mid July, there are so many here that’s it almost a guaranteed sighting daily on the boats. Last year the first sighting was on June 11. In 2007 the first sighting was June 12. This year we had our first sightings in APRIL! I wonder if this is a foreshadowing for what the summer is going to look like…

I’ve personally only been out here for one summer of blue whale watching. It is one spectacular sight! These are the largest animals to have ever lived on earth. They’re bigger than any dinosaur that ever roamed the earth. The largest blue whale ever recorded was 108 feet long. It was a female blue whale, and she was in the southern hemisphere. We don’t typically get this size of blue whale in the northern hemisphere. The average size is around 88 feet.

After being on the water with these huge animals for a summer, it definitely got my interest sparked. I knew that in years previous, there hadn’t been too many blue whale sightings off of our waters, and 10 years ago, seeing a blue whale in Long Beach was unheard of. So what was happening? Why were they here? To get answers to these questions, I started using my marine mammal sources. A professor at Orange Coast College that I work with put me in contact with a researcher up north that studied blue whales. His name is John Calambokidis. If you’re a fan of any National Geographic documentaries, there is a new one out called Kingdom of the Blue Whale. One of the main researchers is John. I couldn’t wait to get in touch with him!

After emailing him, he informed me that he’d be in town doing some talks about the new documentary. What a great opportunity to meet and chat with him! I went and listened to his talk and after introduced myself. I asked my questions about why we’re seeing blue whales here now when we really hadn’t before. He informed me that they’ve always been off the coast of southern California. As it turns out, they’ve just been more offshore. Blue whales are a type of baleen whale, so that means they don’t have teeth and instead use something like hair to filter their food which is krill. Krill is a very small, shrimp like, animal. The last couple of years they’ve been eating krill that is closer to shore giving us a better chance to see them. That makes sense! As to why they’re eating a different krill is still under speculation. He thinks it probably has to do with the chemistry of the water changing and global warming.

This past weekend we saw five blue whales on the boats! I hope this means they’re here and we start seeing them on a more regular basis. If they start hanging out here daily, they’ll be a lot earlier than last year, but I don’t mind! If you’re interested in joining us for our excursions in search of the blue whale, click here!

Getting Questions Answered About Blue Whales from an Expert
A blue whale lunges head first out of the water.  | Kera Mathes
Getting Questions Answered About Blue Whales from an Expert
A blue whale traveling with the blowholes wide open as it takes a breath  | Kera Mathes

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