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Lots of gray whales, and an early blue whale!

Stewy's avatar

Animal Updates | Mammals | Whale Watching

Thursday, April 13, 2017

James S.

Blue whale - popup
Blue whale Erik Combs, Harbor Breeze Cruises

Hello everyone! I hope you’ve had a chance to see all the amazing gray whales that are moving northbound returning to the colder northern waters. We’ve had lots of cow-calf pairs of grays seen on the whale watches. Something many people may not realize is that gray whale mothers typically do not feed during their northern journey. They protect their young and nurse them without taking the time to make dives down to the muddy sea floor to get to their food sources. Gray whale babies are born with little or no blubber, so the adaptation of this massive migration distance is to travel as far south as they to have their babies in the temperate and tropical waters where they won’t have the danger of hypothermia. As the gray whales migrate back north the babies bulk up nursing from mom as they follow the coastline back to the summer feeding grounds. We’ve also seen lots of courting and potentially mating behavior from the gray whales. Typically gray whales will get pregnant maybe every other year or every 3 years. Since their gestation period can be 12-13 months, and weaning may take place after the baby is 8-10 months old, a healthy female gray whale won’t birth a calf every winter. We’re highlighting the 3rd of our 4 interns, Katie. We included some of her favorite photos she has taken from this season in the blog. If you see her on the boat, say hi!

Hi everyone! I’m Katie and I’m one of the Photo Identification interns for this season. I originally hail from Kansas City, Missouri (Go Royals), but marine biology jobs are pretty scarce around there, so I have re-located to the coast! Ever since I was little I have been fascinated with ocean exploration and marine animals. Last summer I interned at an aquarium in South Carolina where I helped rehabilitate injured/sick sea turtles at the aquarium’s sea turtle hospital. I really loved working with turtles but I felt that I needed to stick with my whale obsession, and find an internship working alongside Cetaceans. This internship has provided me with some amazing opportunities to view Cetaceans in their wild habitat and I have been especially fortunate to see Gray whales breaching on numerous occasions. I am still hoping to see some Humpback whales towards the end of the season, as they are my favorite whale species. I am planning on pursuing a master’s in marine biology and am hoping to travel around the southern hemisphere and volunteer or work in marine animal conservation and rehabilitation. I hope to eventually find a career where I can work in many different fields of marine science and ocean conservation.

Well I hope you will all get a chance to get out and see the gray whale calves traveling north. Head down to Long Beach and pick up your combo ticket for the aquarium and a Whale Watch from Harbor Breeze Cruises. See you on the water!