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Humpback Whale Fun In The Sun

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Animal Updates | Mammals | Whale Watching

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

James S.

Humpback whale fluke - popup
Humpback whale fluke Aquarium of the Pacific

Hello everyone! It’s been a lovely couple of weeks on the water. There have been sightings of our seasonal blue whales, the fin whales, a lot of sightings of humpback whales, and 2 sightings of the Risso’s dolphins. I hope you’ve been out on the water with us, but if not you can catch up with the blog today.

While we haven’t had as many sightings of blue whales at this point in the season as we did last year, that doesn’t mean we haven’t had some fun out on the boat. The humpbacks that are in the area have been keeping our interns busy getting photos of their flukes. Just in the last 2 weeks we’ve been able to identify 4 different humpbacks in the photos we’ve been able to collect. One of which has a very noticeable set of barnacle scars on the underside of its fluke. All of us in the education department compared them to “googley eyes” and some even thought I had photo-shopped the image to include the marks! Our naturalists have affectionately nicknamed this whale googley eyes, who was also spotted on July 18th. If you look at the other barnacle scars on that whale you can see other marks that look similar. Typically when the barnacles die and fall off they leave a ring mark or circle on the skin of the whale. We can use those scars to help identify the humpback whales. We even noticed one of the humpbacks sighted last year, Oscar/Olive. Researchers aren’t sure of the gender so they gave it both kinds of names. It’s so much fun to be at the point where you can recognize whales that have visited our waters for multiple years.

One of my favorites, the Risso’s dolphins, were spotted a couple times in the last week. We’ve talked about them in previous blogs, and we only see them a small number of times per year. They’re primarily squid eating dolphins, so we know if they are hanging around there’s probably a decent amount of squid in the area for them to consume.

The first of our interns to get highlighted this summer is Alberto. Make sure to check out his favorite photos posted in today’s blog.

As a rising senior at Tufts University, native of Los Angeles, CA, I wanted to gain experience in the field of marine environmental studies. I learned to swim in the ocean and visited the Aquarium of the Pacific as a kid often into my teen years. Furthermore, my father always took me along on any fishing trips to the beach or out on a boat. Another major component of my interest in applying to be the Marine Mammal ID intern comes from experiences and works done while studying abroad in Chile the fall of 2016. The course culminated in a field day weekend near “Isla de Damas” where I was able to identify whales from distance, check out the avifauna, and observe sea otters.

If you would like to come down to Long Beach and get out on the water, buy your combo ticket to Harbor Breeze Cruises and the Aquarium of the Pacific. Whale watches board at 12 and 3:30 every day, and you can explore over 12,000 animals on exhibit inside the aquarium.

See you on the water!