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It’s Official! We’ve Had Our First Blue Whale Sighting for 2012!

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Whale Watching

Friday, April 20, 2012

Kera

We’ve been hearing over the last month that a blue whale would pop up in one area for a day or so, and then a couple of days later they’re somewhere else. At one point there were even five recorded feeding on some krill. Now it’s our turn! We had our first blue whale sightings just this last week! And to top it off, orcas AGAIN!

When I first started whale watching with the Aquarium of the Pacific, I saw blue whales through that whole summer. I was new to the whale watching world and wasn’t really sure what was normal and what wasn’t. When did we first see this type of whale, and when should the last sighting for that whale be were just a few of the questions I always had. If someone would have told me I would see blue whales in April, I would have thought that they were crazy. After working on the boats and learning some of the patterns, I actually wouldn’t expect anything different than an April blue whale sighting! The last three years have shown our first sightings right around this time. Last year it was even a little earlier with our first sighting in March.

My current whale photo ID interns are here collecting data primarily on gray whales since that is the current season we’re in. I always tell them there’s a good chance at least one of the blues we see will be during one of their shifts. Last Sunday when the blue whales were spotted I got quite a few texts alerting me of the sighting. Our intern, Natalie, had quite the day and was able to grab up some great photos! One of my past photo ID interns is currently working on IDing one of the whales that we saw to find out who it is.

In addition to have blue whales in the last two weeks, we’ve also had orcas again! Some of the orcas we saw we’ve seen previously this year, and some have never been seen here before (although many times up north). I really feel like this is the year of the orca. We’ve had more sightings down here in these three and a half months than in some years combined. I’ve been lucky enough to be on many of these trips. Only two days ago we also had another report of orcas not too far away, although they moved offshore before we could get to them.

Besides the recent blue whale and orca sightings, we’re still seeing the cow/calf pairs of gray whales move through the area. We’re getting towards the end of gray whale season, but it’s still holding pretty strong. With there being so many calves born this year, I’m hoping we’ll continue to see these adorable babies as they make their way north for a few more weeks. Overall I’d say the ocean has really been giving us a great show and hopefully everyone will be able to make it out sometime this season!

It’s Official! We’ve Had Our First Blue Whale Sighting for 2012!
We're currently using this photo to help us match photos to the catalog to find out which blue whale this is!  | Natalie Etcheverry
It’s Official! We’ve Had Our First Blue Whale Sighting for 2012!
This is a picture of one of the orcas last spotted. This is Ca137, a male that's never been seen here before!  | Kera Mathes
It’s Official! We’ve Had Our First Blue Whale Sighting for 2012!
This is an orca we call Chopfin. His fin has been injured twice. Once from fishing line and another probably from a boat collision. We see him down here quite a bit.  | Kera Mathes

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