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One Whale, Two Whale, Gray Whale, Blue Whale! Killer Whales and Humpbacks too!

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Animal Updates | Mammals | Conservation | Whale Watching

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Julien

Whales everywhere! So far, April has been a great month for seeing multiple species of whales and dolphins, and we have had some pretty exciting trips. The blues are still being sighted periodically and we have had five sightings already this month! We have been seeing some great lunge feeding action with the blues and the fins, and fin sightings are up as well with 23! Northbound grays have also been sighted frequently, but the numbers are getting smaller since we are nearing the end of the migration. Thirty-six northbound grays have been sighted so far along with a few cow-calf pairs. These grays, from Long Beach, have a few thousand miles left before they make it to their final destination to their feeding grounds in Alaska.

We had a fantastic surprise on the 10th with a pod of 7 Bigg’s killer whales! We have been having killer whale sightings more often than prior years which make for an even more exciting whale watch. This pod consisted of one juvenile, an adult male and several adult females perusing the coast. According to Alisa Schulmen-Janiger from the California Killer Whale Project, these whales’ primary home is off the coast of Monterey California, and one of the females was identified as “Hopper”. This is only the second time she has been reported in this area, and this is the furthest south she has ever traveled to our knowledge. Killer whales are the largest of all the odontocetes, or toothed whales, and they are very talented hunters. There is a reason they are called the ‘wolves of the sea’ and will predate other whale species. Often times we spot these whales hunting off of our coast and this time there was a harbor seal at the wrong place at the wrong time.

We got yet another surprise on the 12th and the 14th with two humpback whale sightings! We have been viewing photos of the humpback to try and make an ID or see if it has been the same individual. This is the third humpback whale sighting in the last month, so maybe it is the same one we keep seeing or maybe there are several? We will keep researching and comparing photos to find out. They are always great to see because they usually spend a lot of time out of water and give an excellent show. This individual was breaching, and slapping the surface with its giant pectoral flippers and even showing its fluke. Some of the reasons humpback whales exhibit these behaviors are to attract a mate, communicate food availability, or to knock off parasites living on their skin. Though our local migrating humpbacks do not mate in our local waters, they could still be communicating to other whales that there is krill and small fish in the area to feed on.

Hundreds of common and bottlenose dolphins have also been sighted almost daily riding alongside the boat. If you would like to come out and have an amazing adventure with us out on the water and see some beautiful animals, we would like to see you!

One Whale, Two Whale, Gray Whale, Blue Whale! Killer Whales and Humpbacks too!
Blue whale surfacing its massive body to take some breaths.  | Aquarium of the Pacific
One Whale, Two Whale, Gray Whale, Blue Whale! Killer Whales and Humpbacks too!
A perfect heart shaped blow created by a gray whale headed back to Alaska.  | Aquarium of the Pacific
One Whale, Two Whale, Gray Whale, Blue Whale! Killer Whales and Humpbacks too!
A recent humpback whale breaching out of the water.  | Aquarium of the Pacific
One Whale, Two Whale, Gray Whale, Blue Whale! Killer Whales and Humpbacks too!
An incredible shot of a common dolphin surfacing and the bubbles forming on its back.  | Aquarium of the Pacific

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