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Gray whale season is almost over

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Animal Updates | Mammals | Whale Watching

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

James S.

Gray whale cow-calf pair - popup
Gray whale cow-calf pair Aquarium of the Pacific

Our sightings of gray whales have definitely been reduced over the last couple of weeks, only a few instances where we were able to see probably the last few cow/calf pairs heading north for their summer feeding. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go whale watching! We’ve seen lots of dolphins recently, even saw some Risso’s dolphins again. We’re now in our transition between the gray whale season and the blue whale season. There was a blue whale spotted in the area Tuesday, so we know they’re on their way! We’ll just have to wait to for more of them to show up. Usually July and August are the peak times too see the blue whales, but we’ll start seeing them regularly in June.

We celebrated Bird Day LA on May 6th this year. If you haven’t heard of Bird Day LA, this is a region wide event to go birding and even do some regular counts of certain species. Every year around this week people do a census count of pelicans. Our whale watches go out like normal, but spend extra time talking about the importance of birds in our coastal ecology. Many of the times that we have spotted dolphins and whales is because of the diving birds actively feeding. There are dozens of species that we can see during our whale watches, and some of them can be difficult to ID since there are seasonal, breeding, and gender plumage differences in some birds. Some seasonal, juvenile plumage can look like another species at a quick glance. Go birding and give it a try, we have numerous bird sanctuaries near the waterfront and wetlands that you can visit to observe our amazing avian wildlife.

I had a great interaction with a few of our guests while training one of our new interns. These guests were from England, and every so often they come over to Long Beach to visit the Queen Mary. Not just because of the history the ship holds, or even to glimpse back at the past with the trans-Atlantic ocean liners. They actually worked on the Queen Mary while it was in service! The 2 gentlemen were engineers on the ship while it was still in service. And one of them even served on it during its last Atlantic crossing. It was amazing getting to talk to people who had not only ridden on the ship in its heyday, but were part of the crew visiting their old ship.

This month we will have our new set of interns showing up and training for our marine mammal photo ID program. We’ll highlight their photography work once they get their feet wet in the program and hopefully start seeing some blue whales for them to identify. As always, come on down to long beach to get a combo ticket to the Aquarium of the Pacific and Harbor Breeze Cruises whale watches. Observe our local cetaceans in their habitat and then come inside to learn more about our local species and the urban ocean we all use.

See you on the water!