Whales, whales, whales, and more whales. That’s what our volunteer naturalists, the Museum Whalers, are reporting. An unexpected number of gray whales have been spotted much earlier this year. The peak migration is generally mid-January through mid-February, but apparently the whales didn’t get the memo.
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Scientist Dave Weller says, “I think the increase in whale sightings is likely related to the truly exceptional weather and sea state conditions we have had for the past several weeks.” That being said, now is the perfect time to join theNAT’s Museum Whalers on a Hornblower Whale and Dolphin Watching Cruise for a truly enjoyable day on the ocean.
Eastern Pacific gray whales make a long journey down the western coast of the United States every year. Traveling between 10,000 and 14,000 miles, the gray whale migration is one of the longest migrations of any mammal on earth. In the fall, the gray whales begin to leave their feeding grounds in the Bering and Chukchi Seas and head south to the mating and calving lagoons on the Baja California peninsula.
Gray whales are relatively slow moving, traveling approximately 100 miles per day. The whales remain in the lagoons for two to three months, allowing the calves time to produce a thick layer of blubber to sustain them during the northward migration, which begins in late winter. At birth, gray whales are about 15 feet long and weigh close to a ton (2,000 pounds). They will grow to an average of 45 feet in length, can weigh up to 45 tons, and live for up to 60–70 years.
For more information, please visit http://sdnhm.org/education/naturalists-of-all-ages/gray-whale-watching/ or email Janet Morris at email@example.com.