Thursday, September 04, 2014
But What About the Dolphins?
The end of August has been pretty amazing with blue whale sightings every day! Along with the blue whales giving us great shows out there, minke whales and more humpbacks have been sighted too. These are baleen whales that have made themselves the stars of the shows, but what about the pre-show entertainment? I always call the toothed whales our true entertainers since we see them quite often, and the bottlenose dolphins have been stealing the limelight from the blues the last few trips.
Mola mola and sea birds do give the guests some thrills during a trip but nothing is more fun than watching those dolphins having fun! We have two populations of bottlenose dolphins that we see; the coastal and the offshore. The coastal bottlenose dolphins are just that; near the shore! We see them in and around the harbor and the breakwall, and they rarely travel more than 2 kilometers (a little over a mile) from shore.
Offshore bottlenoses are genetically different than the coastal, due to their separation, and are typically larger. The California coastal stock of offshore bottlenose range in numbers between 450-500 individuals, and we have seen quite a few in the last few weeks. Usually we see about ten to fifteen at a time, but we had pods of about 70-plus individuals. These guys always look like they are having so much fun leaping clear out of the water and surfing the wake of our boat. We have some great photos of them in action and I have included some of the best from this month. Our photo ID interns collect data during all of our trips and actually take most of the photos shown in this blog. Their data is important for research and you can see some of it used in our ‘Whale App’ to see where our whales and dolphin sightings have been at whaleproject.aquariumofpacific.org.
In blue whale news, we have seen the infamous and aptly named ‘Hook’ with the obscurely shaped fluke. It is unsure whether this whale was born this way, or had a previously healed injury, but is largely missing part of its left fluke. We have also started to see some surface lunge feeding from the big blues as well! We have not seen a lot of this, as we have in previous years, but the krill may be upwelling more to the surface. This makes for an excellent blue whale viewing experience! The amazing photos of these blues were taken by Harbor Breeze Cruises photographer, Tim Hammond.
Other fauna that has been sighted this month are more commons dolphins, Rissos’s dolphins and a possible sea turtle sighting. Along with the huge baleen whales we often see their little toothed cousins too so if you want to go out and look for it all, come on out. Thanks for reading!
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