Whales in the News

Scientists Track Gray Whale Migration From Big Sur Bluffs After 7 Year Hiatus

Taken from “A Winter’s Watch: Scientists Track Whale Migration From Big Sur Bluffs” from the Montery Herald website

The census in 2011 estimated the current population to be about 21,000, a number that’s been relatively stable for the past 10 years.

“This year, we want to see a stable population or one that’s slightly increasing,” Weller said.

That would be good news for whale watchers, too. Richard Ternullo, the owner of Monterey Bay Whale Watch, said business has been solid so far this season.

“The weather’s been good, so people have been out,” Ternullo said. “It seems like a pretty normal migration in terms of the number. Maybe it was a little bit early as far as when we started seeing the migrants.”

Detecting shifts in when the whales start arriving — and especially when the peak number goes by — is a secondary goal of the census.

“Every given year it might shift a little bit forward, or a little backward,” Weller said.

Whale biologists are also interested in whether the declining levels of Arctic sea ice will affect migration patterns.

“The receding ice is not necessarily a negative thing in the gray whale case,” Weller said.

That’s because it opens up new habitats, and no one is sure what effects this will have on gray whale behavior. But the biggest mystery is still why the whales migrate at all.

“Some people believe they migrate away from areas where calves are in danger,” Weller said, adding that this is his favored explanation.

Another explanation holds that the demands of giving birth require the whale moms to be in warmer waters for energetic reasons. These questions will require many future studies to decide.

For now, this year’s count is still up in the air.

“We won’t really know until the whole thing is over,” Weller said

 

Taken in part from this article:http://www.montereyherald.com/environment-and-nature/20150117/a-winters-watch-scientists-track-whale-migration-from-big-sur-bluffs

Indications are this year’s Whale Watching is going to be fantastic!

Anchovies attract whales

Large numbers of whales have congregated off Monterey Bay to the delight of camera-wielding whale watchers like the ones aboard Nancy Black’s Sea Wolf II. Photo credit: Jim Wilson/The New York Times

The New York Times is reporting today that whale sightings along the coast off of Monterey, California are fantastic.  This is a good sign for whale watching in San Diego.  The whales are beginning the winter migration south to Mexico, passing right by San Diego on their way.

But it was the whales that astounded even longtime residents — more than 200 humpbacks lunging, breaching, blowing and tail flapping — and, on a recent weekend, a pod of 19 rowdy orcas that briefly crashed the party, picking off sea lions along the way.

Such a large turnout to the north indicates that residents and visitors in San Diego are going to be treated to a fantastic season of marine life sightings.  Scientists believe that whale are attracted to a large anchovie population, an important food source for the traveling animals.

What has drawn the animals is a late bloom of anchovies so enormous that continuous, dense blankets of the diminutive fish are visible on depth sounders. The sea lions, sea birds and humpbacks (which eat an average of two tons of fish a day) appear to have hardly made a dent in the population. Last month, so many anchovies crowded into Santa Cruz harbor that the oxygen ran out, leading to a major die-off.

To read more, visit the New York Times.

To book your whale watching adventure, visitwww.sandiegowhalewatching.com.