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Gray Whale Migration Update: Feb. 20, 2013
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"We are right in the middle of our migration turnaround, with gray whales going in both directions," reports Alisa at ACS/LA. Meanwhile, admire the babies in our video clip and photo gallery from the nursery lagoons.

This Week's Update Includes:

Image of the Week
Student pets baby gray whale in the lagoon
Image: Keith Jones
Petting Baby Whale!
News: Heading North

Whales are on the move! Hopeful whale watchers in the Mexican lagoons are enchanted by baby whales up close, while observers along the Pacific Coast are thrilled to see these gentle giants now heading north. Highlights:

Counting the Whales Passing California
News we've been watching for comes from the ACS/LA Gray Whale Census and Behavior Project (Post #6). Project Director Alisa Schulman-Janiger reports: "We are right in the middle of our migration turnaround, with gray whales going in both directions." To date, they've also tallied the highest southbound count in 16 seasons. Why? Don't miss Alisa's field notes to discover four reasons that can cause whale counts to be higher than usual, and which reasons apply to this year.

Further north near Santa Barbara, trained volunteers at Gray Whales Count (Post #7) began duty on Feb. 11. Seeing 14 northbound whales in the first week inspired Director Michael Smith to say: "We are off to a terrific start of maybe our best year of Gray Whales Count." Northbounders are also passing Monterey Bay, Post #9!

Baby Boom in the Lagoons
The February 12 whale census in Laguna Ojo de Liebre (Post #3) tallied 506 babies. A family from Australia brought their 3 sons to visit and all petted a baby whale that stayed with their boat for an hour! Meanwhile, tour leader Keith Jones sent news from Magdalena Bay: "This looks to be a year where a lot of whales are inside each of the three main nursery lagoons." More next time!

Looking Ahead
On February 16 ACS/LA had mostly southbound grays (4 south, 2 north). Numbers will flip-flop throughout the next week during this turnaround time as the southbound migration tapers and the northbound migration picks up. Alisa predicts: "By our next posting (in two weeks), we should be well into the northbound migration." Stay tuned!

Baby gray whales' two blowholes
Image: Caroline Armon
Two Blowholes
 
Baby gray whale's mouth open to show baleen
Image: Renee Bonner
Mouthful of Baleen
 
Gray whale migration route
Map: Journey North

Explore the Route

See this week's news at Posts #1, #3, #6, #7, #9

See MapServer too!

Photo Gallery: Babies in the Nurseries

This baby photo album from the gray whale nurseries will make you smile! Think and wonder as you view the pictures. Then use the journal page and JN resources below to explore facts you know and questions you have:


Photo gallery of gray whale babies in the nursery lagoons
Photo Gallery
Tracking the Migration: Daily Data

As you view the data this week, explain: Why do you think zeros are important in data collection? Compare: On what date last year did Post #7 see their first northbound whales? (See 2012 data by scrolling down Post 7's data page.) Based on the data for past years, when do you predict the first northbound cow/calf pair will reach Post #6? Post #7?

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 March 6, 2012.
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