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Humpbacks & Dolphins In The Area

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Animal Updates | Mammals | Whale Watching

Thursday, August 03, 2017

James S.

Humpback fluke - popup
Humpback fluke Aquarium of the Pacific

It’s been a little quieter out on the water than we would have expected, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t seen any cetaceans. There have been some sightings of humpbacks and lots of dolphins hanging around the area. Our naturalists and the photo ID interns have also been observing a lot of dolphin calves in the water too! Check out the photos and see how many calves you can spot from our pods of common and bottlenose dolphins.

Unfortunately our whale watches haven’t spotted a blue whale in a long time (well long compared to what we’re used to). But that doesn’t mean they’re not around or that there are less of them. In a report from the National Marine Fisheries Service and NOAA, the blue whale population hasn’t significantly changed over the last 20-25 years. They have also seen summer feeding grounds and sightings extend much farther north along the SoCal coastline, and beyond. So while certain years might see fewer blue whales, most likely their feeding range is moving around or they decide to feed in different areas. So don’t fret that our sightings of blue whales are lower this year. The whales are just summering in different spots.

Our next intern to be highlighted in our blog is Alexis. Alexis moved to the Long Beach area to specifically work on this internship. We’re happy to have her, take a look at some of her favorite photos from the internship!

Hey! I’m Alexis, and I am a marine mammal photo identification intern. My fascination with the ocean began on my third birthday. My parents took me to see The Little Mermaid, and I’ve been wide-eyed and fascinated with the ocean ever since. Growing up in Montana made it difficult to gain much experience with the ocean, so I was ecstatic when I was given the opportunity to study whales. I’ve seen many whales this summer, even a humpback calf! During every sighting you can find me grinning like crazy, something I thought would fade out as the summer continued. There is no such thing as a bad day on the boat in my opinion. Mola mola sunfish, a great white shark, bottlenose and common dolphins, and a turtle have helped mix things up from the ‘humdrum routine’ ;) of whale watching. I hope to continue with marine research, potentially with whales but maybe other marine megafauna. I am so proud to say I am a part of the Aquarium of the Pacific’s team, and I hope to make them proud as I continue in my career.

UPDATE: Right as I was going to post our blog, our naturalist let me know that they spotted a sei whale on the whale watch. We very, very rarely get to see these whales. Sei whales share similar range to the fin whales and are almost as fast. The fin whales, Bryde’s whales, and sei whales are all very similar in appearance. The way to figure it out is that 1: fin whales have a bi-color jaw. See it and you definitely have a fin. 2: Bryde’s whales have 3 ridges that extend along the rostrum. So if you don’t see the bi-color jaw and there’s only one rostrum ridge you have a sei whale.

Scientists don’t actually know much about the distribution or movements of sei whales, they are fairly elusive for sightings. But scientists are pretty sure they have seasonal movement between higher and lower latitudes, like many whales.

Well if you haven’t been down to Long Beach, come on down and get out of the heat by getting out on the water with Harbor Breeze Cruises and the Aquarium of the Pacific. Buy a combo ticket and visit our 12,000 exhibit animals and check out the natural habitat we can explore on a whale watch boat.

See you on the water!