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The Return of the Sperm Whale and the Killer Whales!

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Animal Updates | Mammals | Whale Watching

Tuesday, December 31, 2013


The Return of the Sperm Whale and the Killer Whales!
Captain Carl Mayhugh

As we come to the end of another year, we are sure not ending our whale sightings! This is just the beginning!

As we come to the end of another year, we are sure not ending our whale sightings! This is just the beginning!

Now that the gray whale season has officially begun, we have been seeing them on a regular basis. So far, since the beginning of December, we have had 52 sightings of grays. However, the annual gray whale census being conducted at the American Cetacean Society’s interpretive Center in Rancho Palos Verdes has sighted over one hundred southbounders so far! We were even lucky enough to see some breaching behavior a few days ago and even some graceful flukes.

Along with seeing tons of grays headed down south, we also had ‘Mango’ the sperm whale grace us with his presence yet again! On December 2nd, we initially had an encounter, and on the 13th, he came back! I was fortunate enough to be the naturalist on this trip and I will never forget it! It was a pleasant surprise as we were watching a few grays and when we looked behind us we saw a type of blow that I had never seen before! Along with the funny ‘off to the side’ blow, there was also an unfamiliar triangular shaped dark colored dorsal fin emerging at the surface as well. IT WAS A SPERM WHALE! We got close enough to see the mighty toothed whale take a super vertical dive and for me to see my first sperm whale fluke! We stuck around for another twenty-three minutes or so and he re-appeared at the surface about a half mile away. The boat sped over to see the giant again and I got to record this whale take a few breathes and take another perfectly vertical dive into the depths. There had been multiple reports of squid in the area, which may be why we saw this giant squid wrangler! We got some excellent shots of this whale’s entire dorsal side, cascading winkles included. While investigating the photos of both sperm whale sightings, we confirmed that was the same whale as we saw on our last occasion; Mango! Mango is an adult male sperm whale who is well known and identified in our local whale world. Seeing Mango, or any sperm whale, for us is a super rare occasion, and now we have had two sightings this month!

Because of the squid abundance, we have also been seeing many Risso’s dolphins and other dolphin species that may be benefiting from their presence as well. Thousands of common dolphins and even a few hundred offshore bottlenose sightings have been adding a little playfulness into our trips.

AND…Surprise! Our CA51’s (Bigg’s Killer Whales) are back as well! These fab four individuals include an adult male, two adult females, and a three-year old juvenile identified as ‘Comet’. They came back again on the 20th, 21st, and 23rd! For the last few years in a row we have had multiple sightings of killer whales around the New Year! They were spotted bow riding, tail lobbing, spy hopping and even breaching! These four have a great reputation as being not only the wolves of the sea (since they hunt other marine mammals) but also some of the most curious killer whales that will travel through our area!

Though 2013 is coming to an end, it is definitely not the end of seeing whales; it is indeed, still the beginning of gray whale season. We are excited for what sightings are to come in a brand new year and of course the many more grays to come. Now is an excellent time to come spend time with your family and friends on a whale watch while you have some time off! We wish everyone a very happy holiday season and a safe and healthy new year! See you next year.

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