Thursday, January 07, 2010
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!!
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