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Parenting and Predation

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Animal Updates | Mammals | Conservation | Education | Whale Watching

Friday, April 11, 2014


Parenting and Predation
A humpback whale calf peduncle slapping the surface with its mother close by.  | Jimmy Marino, Aquarium of the Pacific

We have had some exciting trips out on the water with the small spring storms and more of the northbound gray whale migration! We have still been seeing many juveniles heading north, which makes sense since many of the whales without calves are the first to pass our coast. The majority of our whales have been small and a little shy, but when they are together, we oftentimes will see some courtship behavior! Rolling and a lot of fluking usually followed by some splashes at the surface have surprised guests on board the last couple of weeks. We hope to see many little gray whale babies in the weeks to come as well, since the last to leave Baja and pass our waters are the mother whales and their babies. The mother whales will wait in Baja until their babies are ready for the journey, so we should see them through May!

We were surprised a few days ago with a cow/calf pair of humpback whales! We don’t see this species every day, and we are lucky to get a few sightings a year. This calf became a little playful and did a few peduncle slaps for the guests aboard. Humpbacks are usually fans of making big splashes when whale watch boats are around. These whales will usually give birth around the same time as the gray whales, but this humpback stock does not do that in Hawaii. These are more local individuals who travel up and down the coast and are often seen in Mexico. We see them feeding in the summertime as well when the blue whales are here gorging on krill. We have also spotted many fin whales lately and a few mom and baby pairs of them as well! Our fin whales have a more complex migration path and have been seen between here and Mexico all year long. It is still unknown whether or not they calve in our local waters, but we appreciate them bringing their babies here! It is always nice to see our visiting, migrating, and local whales rearing their calves.

We have also seen some amazing feeding frenzies lately that involve much food competition between marine birds and marine mammals. Bait balls of small fish are quickly surrounded by winged and finned animals creating a display of live food competition and sights you could easily tune in on nature channels. We have seen elephant seals, dolphins, and sea lions of all maturity levels showing us their hunting skills. Sea lions have been seen playing with their food after they catch it and lately we captured moments of an octopus and a large fish meeting their natural predators. We have also still been seeing hundreds of Pacific white-sided dolphin sightings, which has been a real treat for guests to video and photograph.

Common dolphins and bottlenose dolphins continue to find us out on the water, unless they are preoccupied with feeding, and ride the pressure wave our boats creates. Now that it is April, the weather will be warming up and we will be starting to see more whale babies! So come on out and spend your spring break or a nice weekend with your family on a watery, whale adventure!

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