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Humpbacks in the area!

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Animal Updates | Mammals | Whale Watching

Thursday, April 27, 2017

James S.

Humpback whale - popup
Humpback whale Aquarium of the Pacific

Hello everyone! It’s been a lot of fun out on the boats, great variety and animal sightings recently. We spotted a couple of humpbacks in the last week, hanging out together between Abalone Cove State Marine Conservation Area and Point Fermin. There have been fin whales, pacific white-sided and bottlenose dolphins, and gray whales. One gray whale was even inside the breakwall near LA lighthouse.

Historically during our normal water conditions, and even during some La Nina conditions, we have seen humpback whales show up late spring through early/mid fall. We had amazing sightings and numbers of humpbacks during our last El Nino, hopefully the numbers stay pretty high this year too. Humpback whales tend to be the mental images of a whale people think of when we say “whale watch.” Especially after the large efforts in the 1970s, 80s, and 90s to protect these whales, they are a very publicly recognized animal. So as the gray whales and white-sided dolphins start to migrate out of the area, we’ll see a new set of animals to watch on our whale watches. Humpbacks should be moving in to local waters and we’ll start to see the stars of the summer, blue whales.

I have had a lot of guests ask me during whale watches “When is the best time of year to go whale watching?” The best part of SoCal waters is that there are always whales out there to watch! Don’t worry about when to come out and see our whales, unless you are looking for a specific species, just get down here and watch the whales with us!

I do have some sad news to announce. If you haven’t seen on the news yet, Scarlet the humpback whale was found off of Newport Pier on April 21st, deceased. Whale watchers all over southern California have voiced their sorrow over hearing this sad news. After seeing Scarlet many times this past year I too was very shocked to hear she had passed away. Scarlet has been seen in our waters for about 20 years, and when she was spotted entangled in fishing equipment many were very concerned for her health. She became much healthier last fall and winter and we saw lots of surface behavior and breaching after she started gaining weight again. We’ll miss seeing her and her very distinct dorsal fin.

On a lighter note, we’re going highlight our last intern profile for the spring season, check out some of the photos she has taken in our blog.. Caroline joined our group from Austria! If you see her on the boat for the remainder of the season, say hi!

Hello, my name is Caroline and I’m one of the current photoID interns. I am originally from Austria and studied Biology in Germany. Growing up I have always loved animals and wanted to know more about them, how they live and why they do certain things. Hence, I am especially interested in the field of Behavioural Biology in order to learn more about what drives animals in their actions. In my view, one of the most interesting behaviours is cooperation which is why I recently spent some time studying aggressive, submissive, and dominance related behaviours in wolf and dog packs. I am now at the Aquarium of the Pacific where I get to do three of my favourite things in life almost every day which would be taking pictures, observing animals and traveling. Moreover, studying biology it has always been my goal to make a difference in this world and to do something good. A further reason why I am so interested in Animal Behaviour is because I believe that it is the key to conservation. Only by understanding how animals live, what they need and how they behave we can make attempts to conserve our wildlife. Whales and dolphins have always been some of my favourite animals as they are highly intelligent and, depending on the species, also incredibly social and rely on cooperation. The Marine Mammal ID internship gives me the opportunity to learn more about these fascinating animals and actively participate in scientific research aiming to improve the conservation of whales. By tracking individual animals through photo identification more can be learned about their favoured habitats, movement patterns, mortality rates and general behaviours. I consider myself incredibly lucky to be given the chance to be part of this work, thank you AoP for having me here!

Make your way down to Long Beach and get your tickets to the Aquarium of the Pacific and a whale watch with Harbor Breeze Cruises. Learn about the whales and local marine life inside the aquarium and out on the state of the art whale watch boats from Harbor Breeze.

See you on the water!