Thursday, September 13, 2012
This last month our blues have given us wonderful whale watching experiences! At this current time, they are not being seen as frequently off our coast in Long Beach, but they are still here in Southern California feeding. They usually stick around as late in the year as November, so there is still time for them to come back this season. Not only have we been seeing blue whales in their natural habitat, but we were witnessing some of the most amazing sights there are to see; the largest animals on earth lunge feeding and rearing their young right in front of the boat!
Blue whale calves are born weighing over 5,000 lbs. and measuring over 22 ft. long making them the biggest babies on the earth. While nursing, they drink very thick milk from their mothers which contains about 50% fat. This fatty nutrition facilitates the amazing growth of these endangered mammals. A blue whale calf can gain an average of 9 lbs an hour, which equals over 200 lbs a day! Calves wean at about 7-8 months of age or about 50 ft. long, and the babies we have seen this past month were about 4-6 months old already making them close to half the size of their mothers. Whale researchers believe that these babies are born down south off the coast of Mexico and the Central and South Americas. They then travel up to where their food is which this season they have been in San Diego, Monterrey and Long Beach. Tons of them have made it to our coast and blue whale lunge feeding was a sight to behold.
When blue whales feed, their ventral pleats located along their throat expand to the size of a swimming pool to hold a mouth full of krill, around 70,000 gallons of water! The whale lunges towards patch of krill and their enormous mouth opens revealing their baleen plates, tongue, and even eyes. They then rollover on their sides exposing the sheer length and girth of their bodies. Guests have been lucky enough to watch a lot of lunge feeding going on this past month and even see blue whale calves. We are hoping the blue whales come back to finish the end of their season here in Long Beach.
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