Gray Whale Migration Update: March 6, 2013
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The lagoons are still teeming with babies and moms, but the northbound migration is full speed ahead. This week's slideshow explores what gray whales can teach us about survival.

This Week's Update Includes:

Image of the Week
Touching gray whales in the nursery lagoon
Image: Eric Zimmerman
Close Encounters!
News: Full Speed Ahead!

Counting Babies
In the nursery lagoons of Mexico, Gray whale babies are at the stage of their life when when they want to do what all children want to do: play! See how many more babies have been counted in this week's field notes from lagoon observation posts #2 and #3.

Counting the Whales Passing California
At the ACS/LA Gray Whale Census and Behavior Project (Post #6), Project Director Alisa Schulman-Janiger reports: "We are now in the official northbound migration phase; we just emerged from our migration turnaround, with gray whales going in both directions. We have seen more northbound than southbound grays daily since since February 27." In the last two weeks, many gray whales came so close to shore that observers could hear their blows!

Further north at Gray Whales Count (Post #7), the count on March 5 was 13 northbounders, the highest count so far this season. March 2 was the first day of double digits, and a very good representation of this phase—the general population phase—of the northbound migration of Gray whales through the nearshore of the Santa Barbara Channel. March 3 brought a big blow/little blow on the trail of mothers and calves, but project director Michael Smith stated, "This is way early. Could it be? We concluded that we do not know, as we never saw the body of the littler whale."

Looking Ahead
During March, look for the northbound migration numbers to build as whales push farther northward and the mother/baby sightings to begin. Stay tuned!

Animated diagram of migration order for gray whales
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What's the Order?
Spyhopping gray whale
Image: Adrienne De Liso
A Reason to Spyhop
Gray whale migration route
Map: Journey North

Explore the Route

See latest field notes at Posts#2, #3, #5, #6, #7 #11, #15

See MapServer too!

Slideshow: The Monumental Migration

A gray whale's size is the longest of any mammal. Its life is always in motion. The changing seasons drive the whales' endless migration, and gray whales face monumental challenges. Read about their migration in this week's slideshow. Next, learn more about the 1988 rescue depicted in the 2012 Hollywood film Big Miracle. Finally, reflect in your journal about the connection between migration and survival.

Cover of slideshow: The Monumental Migration

Tracking the Migration: Daily Data

Daily data from two scientific study sites help us size up the migration. On which dates did Posts #6 and #7 have their highest counts? What is the general trend of the data at these two posts now? Predict when the first northbound mom/baby sightings will be reported from Posts 6 and 7. (NOTE: The data page for these two these posts shows four years of data to aid predicting and comparing.)

How to track gray whale migration with Journey North

Gray whale migration analysis chart
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The next gray whale migration update will be posted on March 20, 2013.