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Love is in the air

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Animal Updates | Mammals | Whale Watching

Thursday, March 16, 2017

James S.

Hey everyone! I hope you’ve had a chance to get on the boats recently because there has been a lot of variety. Not only have we seen lots of courting and potential mating behavior from our cetaceans, but a few more great sightings of the pacific white-sided dolphins. Our interns have captured photos of fin whales, gray whales, and common dolphins exhibiting courting and mating behaviors. This is very positive thing to see, it means that our populations are healthy enough to be reproducing.

The eastern pacific gray whales and humpback whales have recovered so well that their population levels are close to the maximum the environment can sustain, but fin whales have not rebounded nearly as well. For our staff and the guests to be able to see that the whales in a very urban ocean environment exhibiting such behaviors is a great sign that conservation efforts are doing well for these local species. But there’s always more we can do to help other species that are threatened and endangered.

If you haven’t heard, the vaquita is the most endangered cetacean and marine mammal currently in the world. Maybe 30 are alive in the Gulf of California. Our department director has been at the forefront of conservation education with the Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA). The current effort is to create a temporary sanctuary and gather up the remaining vaquita to create a breeding program for their species survival program. Click here to donate to their fuding to save this extremely endangered species.

On a lighter note here’s the first of our intern introductions. If you’re out on the boat and see her, say hi and talk to her about the internship. Just like myself, she moved here from Colorado where there’s no whales. She’s been a great addition to our program, and unlike me does not get motion sickness.

Hey there, my name is Alicia! I grew up in beautiful Colorado and have wanted to work with marine life since I was very young (although a little tough to do amid mountains and corn fields). I received a Bachelor’s degree in biology from Colorado State University and decided I wanted to pursue work in marine conservation and field research. Previously, I was an aquarist intern at the Butterfly Pavilion in Denver, where I gained invaluable husbandry experience and a new found love for all invertebrates. Now I am incredibly grateful to be finally living on the coast and interacting with marine life in their natural environments almost every day. If I’m not on the boat for whale watches, I’m usually at the beach or exploring tide pools. So far my favorite sightings have been the first time I got to truly grasp the size of a juvenile gray that decided to get a very close look at us, a fin whale repeatedly rolling on its back at the surface, and a pod of Orcas chasing three fin whales. Every day has been an exciting adventure and I get to work with some wonderful people. Being a marine mammal photo ID intern for the Aquarium of the Pacific has been one of the most amazing experiences and I cannot wait to see what else the whales have in store for me! (p.s. Hi Mom!)

And as always, check out our website so you that you can book your next whale watch and aquarium visit together! Combo tickets are available and we’re still seeing so many gray whales as they transition into their northbound season.

See you on the water!

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