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Tons of Blues and Other Marine Life Too!

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Animal Updates | Mammals | Conservation | Education | Whale Watching

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Julien

We kicked off our July with spectacular whale sightings and it has only been getting better! We have been seeing at least three blue whales per trip and even fin whales and minkes as well! In the month of July we had NINTEY-FOUR blue whale sightings alone!

Lunge feeding at the surface of the water has been a consistent behavior that guests on board have been lucky enough to witness. If the krill is at the surface, these whales will sometimes feed on the 8,000 pounds of krill they need to survive daily right in view of guests on board. This type of feeding has been giving the guests a unique opportunity to see more of the whale than just the back breaking the surface. The whale will roll into its side exposing its pectoral flippers, eyes, pleated throat, and even sometimes their hairy baleen that sieves out the water!

Many of the blues we see have very different personalities and behaviors, and look very different too! It becomes easy to differentiate between individuals after you have been out there for a couple of years. Our photo ID interns have their work cut out for them while they are on board taking photos of the back side and the flukes of these whales. Yet, some whales have very unique physiological characteristics like nicked dorsal fins and even possible birth defects or old ship strike wounds around their massive bodies. Their goals are to find matches of blues who have been coming here year after year to feed.

Not only have we been having incredible blue and fin whale action almost daily, we have been able to spot animals in the open ocean that we rarely get to see. Elephant seals passing by and checking out the boat, green sea turtles taking breathes of air before they continue on their way, and TWO more great white shark sightings within the last three weeks! The great whites have been sighted lately more than they ever have and our boat programs coordinator, Kera Mathes, was fortunate enough to see what all Nat Geo lovers have always wanted to see in front of their eyes; these predators in action. On this day, Kera witnessed a 16 foot great white shark predating on a California sea lion which is one of their favorite foods. Great whites are the largest of all the top predatory sharks and the record length of these sharks ever recorded was 22 feet long! Similarly to last month, it seems that the increased sightings could be related to the pupping season the females partake around Santa Monica and Malibu.

We have also had very frequent sightings of toothed whale species like common, bottlenose and Risso’s dolphins. Come on out to see the largest animals on earth feeding on some of the smallest with the lovely summer weather we have been having in Long Beach!

Tons of Blues and Other Marine Life Too!
A blue taking an angled dive with a watefall of sea water falling from its fluke.  | Aquarium of the Pacific
Tons of Blues and Other Marine Life Too!
A Risso's dolphin breaching near the boat.  | Aquarium of the Pacific
Tons of Blues and Other Marine Life Too!
A Blue whale fluke diving exposing a possible birth defect or old ship strike.  | Aquarium of the Pacific
Tons of Blues and Other Marine Life Too!
A photo showing some work from the photo ID interns matching blue whales across multiple years.  | Aquarium of the Pacific

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