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The Grays Are Officially Here!

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Whale Watching | Mammals

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Kera

In addition to the fins and a humpback

We have officially spotted our first gray whales for the season! They seem to be right on schedule, and hopefully they’ll keep on coming. There have also been a good number of fin whales, and even a humpback.

Last week we had our first gray whale spotting for the season. There have been some other spottings off of our lookout points, but this is the first time we’ve actually seen them on our whale watching boats. We’ve only seen a few so far, but this is normally how it starts out.

When gray whales migrate along our coast, the first to pass by heading south to the lagoons in Mexico are the pregnant females. They’re on the move! They want to make sure they get down there where it’s warm and safe to have their calves. That is the main reason they migrate to begin with. Next will be the singles, both males and females. Lastly will be the juveniles.

In recent years gray whales seem to be calving on the way down, and in these cases, the pairs will be moving a lot slower. Last year we saw a brand new baby calf on the southbound trip. Even though some have their babies when they’re southbound, they still continue all the way down because it’s a warm, safe place for the calf to drink the mother’s milk and gain energy for the migration back up.

One thought as to why the mothers are having the babies on the way down is because they’re coming from further north than before. As the North Pole’s ice melts, it’s causing the gray whale’s food sources to move further and further north. This in return makes their migration longer and longer since the starting point is further up. Obviously the pregnancy can’t extend just because the migration does, so they end up calving on the way down.

The singles are the next influx of whales we see. They tend to take their time and spend a lot of time mingling on the way. The juveniles are the last set. For some of them this is their first migration alone. Sometimes they don’t quite get it right and end up hanging out and not finishing all the way down. They’ll jump in with a group that’s heading north. Either way, for the next few months we’ll be seeing whales on the move!

If you’re interested in joining us as we watch for the grays, our boats go out twice daily. While we’re waiting for the big groups of grays to get here, there seem to be a ton of fin whales hanging around as well as one little humpback. There’s always stuff to see off` of Long Beach!!

The Grays Are Officially Here!
A gray whale shows its fluke on the southbound migration. Catalina Island is in the background.  | Kera Mathes
The Grays Are Officially Here!
A gray whale and her new calf keep heading south to the lagoons.  | Kera Mathes
The Grays Are Officially Here!
A brand new baby gray whale swims with a large ship in the background.  | Kera Mathes

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Angela

Sunday, January 10, 2010 02:04 PM

Hi, We are planning a trip down to Disneyland and thought we might come to the aquarium. I was wondering if there will still be whales to see on your whale tour near the end of Febuary. If so what type of whales?
Angela

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Nikki

Friday, January 15, 2010 08:31 PM

Hey Kera
The whale watching trips seem really interesting. I’m planning on going to Long Beach for the whale watching probably in the beginning of February (after my winter classes end, of course). What are the chance of seeing thoe beauties then? What happen if we can see any? Are there any other see animals we might see on the way?
Can you reply and let me know?
Thanks
Nikki

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Ann Schmidt

Tuesday, February 02, 2010 09:21 AM

We’ll be at the Aquarium the weekend of February 28….do you think there will be whales?

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0

Wednesday, February 03, 2010 09:32 AM

Hello everyone!  I’m so sorry for taking a little while to get back to your comments.  To answer you questions, yes! This is one of the BEST times to see whales.  There are gray whales still migrating down, as well as the first north bounders getting ready to leave the lagoons. The peak time is usually around mid March, but still great chances in February!!  We’ve been seeing whales pretty much every day.  Of course there are never and guarantees with nature, but if I were going to go, this month and next month would be the best!!  In the last few weeks, we’ve seen gray whales, fin whales, humpback whales, bottlenose dolphins, Pac. white-sided dolphines, and common dolphins. Make sure and introduce yourself if you see me on the boat!  I’m on a ton in February.

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Sandy

Monday, March 15, 2010 05:05 PM

Hi Kera,
I am just wondering if there will be a chance to see whales the first week in April which will be Spring Break for students. I will be in the area and wanted to go out to see what we can see.
Thanks,
Sandy

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Camille

Thursday, April 01, 2010 10:00 AM

We will be at Long Beach around April 20th will there still be whales to see?

Thanks,
Camille

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