I hope everyone had an amazing 4th of July, it was a lot of fun here at the Aquarium. Our blue whale sightings haven’t been consistent, but we’ve had a lot of dolphins (including commons, bottlenose, and Risso’s), a couple of humpbacks, and a minke whale.
If you have been following us or whale watching for a long time then you probably remember that last year we had very few blue whale sightings later in the summer. Even though we were not in the middle of an El Nino event the waters were a little warm, probably reducing the amount of upwelling in the area. We had to confer with our friends at Cascadia Research Collective to look at all the dynamics of why the blue whales were not hanging around Long Beach, but rather near Santa Barbara or even up to Monterrey Bay. Whales are pretty keen on finding the feeding grounds that can support their feeding habits for the summer, and blue whales are no exception to moving or extending the northern reaches of their feeding grounds to bulk up before they return south to their breeding and birthing grounds.
Since our blue whale numbers have waned for the last half of June it’s definitely possible that we’re seeing a shift in their standard feeding areas and the whales are continuing north in their search for food while only briefly hanging out in our waters in May and June. The data we’ve been collecting since 2011 shows that the recorded blue whale sightings had their peak times during July and August. With May and June being the strongest months for sightings for 2017 and 2018 we could be witnessing some new behaviors from the whales that typically venture through California waters.
Just because there isn’t a plethora of blue whales doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get on a boat. Beat the summer heat and come on down to Long Beach, purchase your combo ticket to the Aquarium of the Pacific and Harbor Breeze Cruises. Whale watches are boarding every day at 12 and 3:30pm and the Aquarium is open late most nights in July. Check out our website for more information on events and happenings at the Aquarium. Like Saturday the 7th we’re participating in the International Save the Vaquita Day with a guest speaker, educational programming, and special booths at the aquarium.
See you on the water!