In the last few decades, however, whale scientists have noted that not all gray whales migrate the entire way. Right now it’s the peak of The Gray Whale Migration, and there's no better place to see these majestic creatures from shore or by boat than in Monterey California. They travel 10,000-12,000 miles round trip every year between their winter calving lagoons in the warm waters of Mexico and their summer feeding grounds in the cold Arctic seas. Some, a few hundred at most, stop well south of the Arctic region and spend some, if not all, of their summer foraging and feeding far from the rest of the population. The California Gray Whale migration south occurs in late December through February and migration north… Summer (approx. Adult male and non-pregnant female whales also make the journey to Baja's lagoons in order to mate. She is an avid traveler with a professional career that includes diving, marine ecotourism research, and strategic communications for conservation organizations. The Migration route of the Pacific Gray Whale is often described as the longest known mammal migration in the animal kingdom. The whales undertake this enormous journey to take … The whales get so close to the shore that no boat ride is required to observe them. Gray whales are true to their name, and are dark gray in color with blotchy white patches. Distinctive Dorsum (Back): Gray whales do not have a dorsal fin. http://www.birdsongandtheecowonders.com. Their flukes are wide with an uneven end, and their pectoral fins are long - almost one-third of their body length. December to early February the California Gray Whales are migrating south. Its relative, the Western Pacific Gray whale is ecologically extinct. Is migration important for gray whales? Gray whale migration patterns through the Southern California Bight from multi-year visual and acoustic monitoring Regina A. Guazzo 1,5, *, Alisa Schulman-Janiger 2, Michael H. Smith 3, Jay Barlow 4, Gerald L. D’Spain 1, Dennis B. Rimington 1, John A. Hildebrand 1. Gray whales don’t strike you with their beauty. Gray whales travel at approximately 5 miles per hour and average about 75 miles a day. Most gray whale calves are born in January, as well as during the end of December and start of February. Keep an eye out for these distinct puffs on the horizon! In addition to gray whales, there is some other wildlife you may spot on our Half Moon Bay whale watching trips. When they breathe out, the spray (also called the 'blow') sometimes takes the shape of a heart. Every fall and winter, about 20,000 gray whales make a long journey from the Bering Sea and Alaska in the north to Baja California, in the south. February - late April | Northward Migration: Gray whales leave Baja's lagoons to migrate back north starting at the beginning of February and continuing through April. Late December | Arrival to Baja California: Adult females and males begin to arrive in the lagoons of Baja California. Great places to look for gray whales include: Crescent Beach Overlook (Crescent City, Calif.) and Klamath River Overlook (Requa, Calif.). These gray whale watching tours run weekends between January to March, which means you may see both south- and northbound whales! BIRDSONG and the ECO-WONDERS have created this fun, educational video for kids about the California Gray Whale. Beginning in February you begin seeing whales migrating back to Alaska with their newborn babies by their sides. These mother-calf pairs tend to stay close to the coast throughout their migration, and will be looking to avoid predators, especially killer whales and great white sharks. Led by Oceanic Society's local wildlife experts, our 3-hour whale watching tours from Half Moon Bay let you experience the gray whale’s annual migration. California Gray Whale Migration. These individuals belong to what scientists call the. Flukes: Gray whale flukes are rounder than the well-known humpback flukes, with a distinct heart-shape. The gray whale (Eschrichtius robustus), also known as the grey whale, gray back whale, Pacific gray whale, or California gray whale, is a baleen whale that migrates between feeding and breeding grounds yearly. Engaging in the longest migration of any mammal, the California gray whale (Eschrichtius robustus) swims ~16,000 kilometers (~10,000 miles) each year, spending about one third of its life migrating from the cold, nutrient-rich waters of Alaska, to the warm, shallow lagoons of Baja California. https://www.latimes.com/.../southern-california-whale-watching-gray-whales You can follow Scott’s daily observations of the Gray whale migrations directly on their Facebook page, Mendonoma Whale and Seal Study. Beginning in the Bearing and Chukchi Sea and ending in the warm water lagoons of Mexico’s Baja peninsula, their round trip journey moves them … Beyond their coloration, there are a few distinguishing characteristics that can help you identify gray whales along the California coast. Each whale consumes hundreds of pounds of small marine animals every day. It's the longest migration of any animal on earth. Blow or spout: Like other baleen whales, gray whales have two blowholes. Probably the most amazing thing about gray whales is their annual migration; gray whales undertake the longest annual migration of any known mammal. March - early April: Humpback whales can be spotted in Half Moon Bay from. While eating, gray whales move along the seafloor on their side, using their baleen to sift their food from the sediment. The white patches are variations in pigmentation, scars and even barnacles and whale lice. The whales undertake this enormous journey to take advantage of the huge amounts of food available in Arctic region in the summer as well as the protected warm winter waters of the Gulf of California for birthing their young. Gray Whale Migration Gray whales make one of the longest migrations of any mammal on earth. Crescent City, CA Gray whales migrate 10,000 miles round trip every year, traveling between their winter calving lagoons in Mexico and summer feeding grounds in the Arctic. Scientists have tracked the movements of individual gray whales within the. Newborn gray whale calves are about 15 feet long and weigh 1,500 lbs. March 12, 2019 1:23 pm The northbound gray whale migration is peaking off Southern California, where a recent sightings spike has astounded scientists and landing operators. 1111 Second Street "Gray whales are currently on their southbound migration and will pass by the Dana Point San Clemente Coast daily through February," she said. It's the perfect time of year to go whale watching here in Northern California, so don't miss your chance! That’s a good thing for whale watchers: It is quite predictable, where to meet them at a certain time. Gray whale calves will nurse for approximately seven months and will stay by their mom's side for up to nine months. Migration of the Gray Whale The gray whale migrates between its summer feeding grounds in the North Pacific and Bering Sea and its winter breeding grounds in the lagoons of Baja California. Oceanic Society is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to ocean conservation. That is about the same as traveling across the United States from San Francisco, California to Washington D.C., 3 times! The annual migration of the gray whales is one of the longest of all mammals. Thanks to a moratorium on whaling and other multinational protections, the Eastern Pacific population of the gray whale is thriving with around 26,000 individuals, and a Red List status of Least Concern. The goal of Mendonoma Whale and Seal Study is to enhance understanding of the presence of marine mammals along the coast of California. Side preference can be determined by looking at the whale's head—the side with fewer barnacles and some evidence of scraping on the skin is their preferred side. Moreover, we use our whale watching cruises as an opportunity to collect photographic identification data on whales, which we share with a network of researchers throughout the eastern Pacific. The Pacific Gray Whale, Eschrichtius robustus, is related to the Humpback Whale and the Fin Whale, but is distinctive enough to be placed in its own family and genus—the Gray Whale has noticeably shorter baleen plates in its mouth, different skeletal proportions, and lacks the deep throat folds found in other whales. All of the net proceeds will support the Laguna San Ignacio Ecosystem Science Program, a project of The Ocean Foundation. The most southern area of the gray whale Pacific Coast Feeding Aggregation region is right off the coast of Redwood National and State Parks–a strong indicator that the regional marine ecosystem is very productive. (NASA image edited by GA) Whale watching boats are common along the coast of … Female whales with newborn calves are the last to depart to the lagoons in order to give the calves as much time as possible to grow. Humpbacks are almost black in color, with white markings along their underside, fins, and flukes (tail). They are unable to defend themselves from human activity and intense industrialization along their migration route. A large majority of gray whales spend the summer in the Bering and Chukchi Seas building up fat for their incredible journey. California's coast is a great place to observe this massive migration. Leffingwell Landing Trail, Moonstone Beach, and all along the gorgeous ocean bluffs are the perfect places to watch whales and wildlife. There are four lagoons in Baja that the whales inhabit. Aside from the seasonally migrating gray whales there is also a small population that spends its year traveling between Canada and California rather than making the long 7,000 mile journey towards the Alaskan waters from the Gulf of California and the Baja peninsula of Mexico. Some California Gray Whales Spend Their Summers at Redwood National and State Parks. There is sometimes what appears to be an overlap in migration patterns with some whales still heading south while others are moving north. May - September) | Arctic Feeding Grounds: Gray whales spend their summers feeding in the nutrient rich waters of the Arctic, though some whales are seen further south during this time, even in California. Near-shore ocean bottom areas must contain large amounts of food to support the enormous summer feeding habits of grays. The sighting Tuesday of a gray whale famously known as “Scarback” has helped signal the beginning of the 2019-20 southbound migration off Southern California. Gray whales don’t have a dorsal fin but do have a distinctive mottled gray and white color. Every year the whales undertake the longest migrations of any mammal, traveling 12,000 miles round-trip from their feeding grounds in the Arctic to calve and breed in the Baja lagoons, and then back again. Amazingly, they appear not to feed during the southerly migration so they lose almost a third of their bo… You may also spot Risso’s dolphins, common dolphins, or Pacific white-sided dolphins. These charismatic marine mammals can reach 40-50 feet in length and weigh more than 36 tons (72,000 pounds) when fully grown. The California coast is an outstanding place to see gray whales, Eschrichtius robustus, during their annual migration between feeding and breeding areas. Not really big as far as whales go, they weigh up to 99,000 pounds, according to NOAA. Gray whales travel at approximately 5 miles per hour and average about 75 miles a day. Year-round: Harbor seals, California sea lions, and pelicans hang out near Half Moon Bay year-round and, very rarely, sea otters make an appearance. Breaching Behavior: Though not quite as acrobatic as the humpback whale, gray whales will emerge from the water and land in a giant splash, a behavior known as breaching. Gray whales have the longest migration of any mammal Their migration is between 10,000 and 12,000 miles round trip every year from the winter calving lagoons in the warm waters of Baja California, to the summer feeding grounds in the cold Arctic Seas. Golden Gate Sailing Cruise - San Francisco, Farallon Islands Wildlife Expedition - Sausalito, 3-hour whale watching tours from Half Moon Bay, fund our global ocean conservation programs, Field Notes: The State of the World's Sea Turtles with Roderic Mast, Field Notes: Using Drones for Marine Mammal Conservation, How Our Blue Habits Community is Taking Action for Plastic Pollution, Update Regarding COVID-19 and Oceanic Society Expeditions. It also lacks a dorsal fin. About Mendonoma Whale and Seal Study. The whales leave their summer feeding grounds in early fall and migrate all the way to Mexico, a distance of close to 6,000 milesone way! Though the whales are leaving the cold northern waters in the north and traveling to California in the warm south, it can still be cold on these trips in Southern California so we urge our guests to dress in layers and bring hats so you can spend time on the outer decks in comfort. Like people, gray whales show left and right side preference! The latter two can contribute up to 400 pounds to the whale’s weight! For more information, see our Half Moon Bay Gray Whale Watching page. The California coastline has some of the best places in the world for whale watching. Over 20,000 California Gray Whales make this migration annually. The clean, nutrient-rich waters offer prime feeding areas for many species of whales, and are part of a migration pathway that has been used for thousands of years. Approximately 20,000 gray whales make the epic migration down the West Coast every winter, and seeing them on their journey is always an amazing experience. During this time, the mother and calf pairs are known for their curious and "friendly" behavior, whereby they actively seek out interaction with whale watchers (e.g. Every year of their lives they swim more than 10,000 miles roundtrip, between nursery lagoons in Mexico to feeding grounds in the Arctic. Amanda earned a Bachelor’s in Psychology from the University of San Diego and a Master’s in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. It is also a field guide to gray whale behavior and the diverse botanical and avian wildlife in the area. It reaches a length of 14.9 meters (49 ft), a weight of up to 41 tonnes (90,000 lb) and lives between 55 and 70 years, although one female was estimated to be 75–80 years of age. Gray Whale Migration Route. Gray whales have the longest known migration of any mammal. January - March | Baja's Lagoons & the California Coast: January through March is an ideal time to see migrating gray whales along the California coast, with whales traveling both northward and southward. It was assumed that the entire population of approximately 20,000 California (or eastern Pacific) gray whales migrated the whole way from Baja to the Bering and Chukchi Seas non-stop. This is also the time during which gray whales arrive in Baja. It presents information on the Pacific gray whales that winter in Baja California beginning in 1977 to the present. Migrating gray whales, NOAA Some California Gray Whales Spend Their Summers at Redwood National and State Parks. This is an excellent time to see migrating gray whales along the California coast, with large numbers of whales traveling northward. If you visit Redwood National and State Parks in the summer time after the peak gray whale migration period of March through May, don’t despair; you may still get to see one of these magnificent creatures surface off the coast. The 2011 population of California gray whales was thought to number around 28,000, and they all pass the coast as they migrate. "petting"). January: Open ocean birds like murres and auklets seek a reprieve in calmer waters along the coast and elephant seal breeding season has begun at Año Nuevo State Park. Your participation in our whale watching trips helps fund our global ocean conservation programs and local programs including the Captain Roger Thomas Scholarship Fund, which gives whale watching experiences to groups and individuals in the San Francisco Bay Area that otherwise might not have the opportunity to do so. Whales undertake the longest known migration of any known mammal migration in the animal kingdom D.C. 3! 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