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Gray Whale Migration Update: February 6, 2013
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Some Pacific gray whales are still southbound—but many are in Mexico's nursery lagoons. Meet some cute and curious one-ton newborns! Will this season match last year's record-breaking number of babies heading north? Welcome to the gray whales' monumental migration!

This Week's Update Includes:

Image of the Week
Baby gray whale's face
Image: Orca Network
Baby Face!
News: Baby Boom Again This Year?

Gray whales are still boogeying south along the Pacific coast in big numbers to reach their mating and birthing lagoons in Mexico. The protected lagoons are like bus stations, with whales coming and going all winter and in early spring. Mothers nurture new babies, while older whales are there for fun.

Last spring more than 1,100 gray whale babies made their first journey north. Scientist Wayne Perryman said the record baby boom was due to the early melting of the Arctic sea ice the previous spring, giving pregnant females early access to vital feeding areas. It was a different story when the whales returned to their feeding grounds last year (spring 2012): The ice was extensive and slow to melt in the Bering Sea. What will happen this year?

Two whale-watching guides are predicting another baby boom, while a scientist is predicting a drop in the number of calves. Read more about their predictions in this week's field notes.

Counting the Whales Passing California
As we start the Journey North season, the ACS/LA Gray Whale Census and Behavior Project (Post #6) has been underway since December 1. Their 30th season again started off with some record numbers! Project Director Alisa Schulman-Janiger reports: "Our trained volunteers have counted more southbound gray whales this season than in any of the previous 16 seasons!" Don't miss the full report from this post, including a record-making sighting of a megapod of gray whales on Jan. 20.

Looking Ahead
So far, only 12 northbound grays have been counted at the official ACS/LA post. When will northbound whales start to outnumber southbound whales? Will we see the usual three distinct pulses (surges in numbers) that tell us which age group is migrating? How will last spring's late ice melt in the Arctic affect number of baby whales born this season? You'll make those discoveries during the 2013 journey north. We're glad you've joined us!

A baby gray whale and probably its mother
Image: Keith Jones
Which is Baby?
 
This baby gray whale is 20-30 days old.
Image: Jim Dorsey
How Young?
 
Gray whale migration route
Map: Journey North

Explore the Route

See this week's news at Posts #2, #3, #6, #8, and #11!

 

See MapServer too!

Slideshow: Tons of Fun! Babies in the Nursery

They're no shrimps at birth, but baby gray whales need a lot of care before they can venture out on their own. They're keeping their watchful mothers very busy right now. Visit the nursery and take a closer look with our puzzle, article, and challenge page. Find them all here:

Cover page for Tons of Fun: Babies in the Nursery
Tons of Fun
Tracking the Migration: Daily Data

Get ready to track the migration! It's still early in the data collection, and very few whales have been seen on the journey north. This is a great time to get acquainted with the data you'll see—and where it comes from. Start here:

How to track gray whale migration with Journey North

Gray whale migration analysis chart
Access Data
Record Data
The next gray whale migration update will be posted on February 20, 2012.
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