Fluke You!

Carol Barona

Joined August 2008

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Lol…we went Whale Watching in Long Beach yesterday and omg, they are so amazing. We saw common Dolphin, Fin Whales, Pelicans, Sea Lions and Grey Whales. I hope you don’t get bored with this photos. I was told numerous times to quit leaning so far over the rails…I guess I thought I was in my car…

Nikon D80
Lens 50-200mm

The Gray (or Grey) Whale (Eschrichtius robustus) is a whale that travels between feeding and breeding grounds yearly. It reaches a length of about 16 meters (52 ft), a weight of 36 tons and an age of 50–60 years. Gray Whales were once called Devil Fish because of their fighting behavior when hunted. The Gray Whale is the sole species in the genus Eschrichtius, which in turn is the sole genus in the family Eschrichtiidae. This animal is descended from the filter-feeding whales that developed at the beginning of the Oligocene, over 30 million years before the present.

The migration route of the Eastern Pacific, or California, Gray Whale is often described as the longest known mammal migration. Beginning in the Bering and Chukchi seas and ending in the warm-water lagoons of Mexico’s Baja peninsula, their round trip journey moves them through 12,500 miles of coastline.

This journey begins each October as the northern ice pushes southward. Travelling both night and day, the Gray Whale averages approximately 120 km (80 miles) per day. By mid-December to early January, the majority of the Gray Whales are usually found between Monterey and San Diego, where they are often seen from shore.

By late December to early January, the first of the Gray Whales begin to arrive the calving lagoons of Baja. These first whales to arrive are usually pregnant mothers that look for the protection of the lagoons to give birth to their calves, along with single females seeking out male companions in order to mate. By mid-February to mid-March the bulk of the Gray Whales have arrived the lagoons. It is at this time that the lagoons are filled to capacity with nursing, calving and mating Gray Whales.

The three primary lagoons that the whales seek in Baja California are Scamnon’s (named after a famous whaleman in the 1850s who discovered the lagoons and later became one of the first protectors of the Grays), San Ignacio and Magdalena. As noted, the Grays were called the devil fish until the early 1970s when a fisherman in the Laguna San Ignacio named Pachico Mayoral (although terrified to death) reached out and touched a Gray mother that kept approaching his boat. Today the whales in Laguna San Ignacio are protected but it is possible to visit a whale camp there and have the same experience that Pachico had.

Throughout February and March, the first Gray Whales to leave the lagoons are the males and single females. Once they have mated, they will begin the trek back north to their summer feeding grounds in the Bering and Chukchi seas. Pregnant females and nursing mothers with their newborn calves are the last to leave the lagoons. They leave only when their calves are ready for the journey, which is usually from late March to mid-April. Often there are still a few lingering Gray Whale mothers with their young calves in the lagoons well into May.

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