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Grays and Fins Galore

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Animal Updates | Mammals | Whale Watching

Thursday, February 15, 2018

James S.

Gray whale heart shaped blow - popup
Gray whale heart shaped blow Aquarium of the Pacific

Hello everyone, I hope you had an enjoyable Valentine’s Day! We were on the whale watches enjoying the fin and gray whales. We’ve had really productive whale watches the past couple of weeks, lots of dolphins (including my favorite, the Pacific white-sided), fin whales, gray whales, breaching whales, and even a humpback whale. Our new interns are in full swing, taking some amazing photos for you all to explore our local ocean life. Expect to see their summaries and learn a little more about our photo ID crew this spring coming up here in March and April.

Gray whales are being seen almost every whale watch right now and according to the ACS gray whale census there have been a total of 771 gray whales seen with 712 spotted traveling southbound between December 1st and February 14th. Spotters for the ACS census have also recorded 60 southbound calves so far! Southbound calves are not uncommon for this leg of the migration; in fact the number of calves spotted this season has been about on par with last season’s total count of 68 from December 25th through February 28th. If you would like to read up more about the migration patterns this year over other years check out the ACS census page here.

One of my favorite animals to observe in the spring is the Pacific white-sided dolphins. They are so beautiful in my opinion and have such a distinct look that ever since the first time I caught sight of one I was enthralled with them, so much so that I have a small poster of a picture of one on my desk from a former intern. They belong to the genus Lagenorhynchus and are the in only species of this genus in the North Pacific Ocean. Often called “Lags” by whale watchers and researchers because of their genus name, their color pattern and very short beak/rostrum often has them confused with Dall’s porpoises. Their population across the entire pacific has recovered well since hunting and regional collection of this species ceased. Estimates range up to 1 million across the entire Pacific Ocean with around 26,000 in our local region of California-Oregon-Washington.

If you haven’t had an opportunity to get on the whale watches yet, it’s a great time to start! Trips run every day at 12 and 3pm with some special 9am trips occurring over the President’s Day holiday weekend. Come on down to Long Beach with your combo ticket to the Aquarium and Harbor Breeze Cruises where you can explore and observe our 12,000 animals on exhibit and then explore the wonderful coastal habitat of the San Pedro Channel.

See you on the water!