Friday, March 23, 2012
Although we’re getting later into the season for gray whale watching, it looks like there’s going to be quite a bit more to see!
We’re now into the part of the season where we’re mostly seeing north bound gray whales. I say mostly because you never know when a silly gray whale is going to be heading south by accident. It’s been a few weeks since we’ve seen a southbounder, but for the most part, we’ll only be seeing the northbounders from here on out.
The last two weeks there have been some exciting behaviors out there on the water. We’ve been seeing gray whales hanging out close together, lob tailing, rolling, and even some mating was spotted. Typically on the northbound migration the whales are a little bit more playful and there have also been days filled of breaching! We haven’t seen too many calves go by yet, but it seems like that might be in the near future after a recent update from the lagoons.
Gray whales that have given birth this year are the last whales to leave the lagoons. They want to keep the babies safe in the lagoons while they bulk up and get stronger off of their milk. Once the babies are strong enough, the cow calf pairs will start their long journey back up towards the Bering Sea where they’ll spend the summer months feeding on small amphipods.
As of March 18, the count of gray whales in San Ignacio Lagoon was 189 adults and 110 calves! That means that we still have quite a bit more calves that will be passing by Southern California. The cool part about cow/calf pairs of gray whales is that they normally travel relatively close to shore. A lot of the singles will actually travel behind Catalina Island where we can expect more of the pairs with babies to travel closer in. This is to help them avoid predators, such as orcas, that are on the prowl for young gray whales. If they can hide within the kelp forest and seek protection from the shallow waters, the babies have a better chance of getting back up north without becoming food for the orcas. This means we have a good chance of seeing even more whales this year. If you’re interested in seeing these baby grays, your best chance will be in the upcoming weeks! If you’d like to keep up with the counts, you can also visit the American Cetacean Society LA chapter’s page here. This is also who I contact for the most up-to-date numbers on local whales!
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