Gray Whale Migration Update: March 20, 2013
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No moms and babies are migrating yet, but the journey north's leading whales are nearing Alaska! Got whale questions? Ask the Expert opens Friday.

This Week's Update Includes:

Image of the Week
Baby gray whale with mouth open to show baleen
Image: Christopher Match
Big Mouth
News: Northbound Parade
Moms and Babies Remain
Single whales are leaving the nursery lagoons, but moms and babies remain. See Posts 2 and 3 for the latest counts.

Whales Passing California
"An incredible northbound whale parade!" reports scientist Alisa Schulman-Janiger at Post 6. "March 18 and 19 were our largest northbound count dates this season." Moms and babies should be coming soon. In 6 of 10 years they have arrived at Post #6 by this time.

Several days of thick fog kept many whales out of sight at Post 7 last week, but March 10 brought 25 sightings. "We usually have lots of whales going by as we hit the first days of spring," says Director Michael Smith.

Leaders in the North
"The Gray Whales continue to move north past our shores," reports Kati from Post 15 in British Columbia. "There is real 'migration energy' as they power on, rarely veering from their northward course."

A few grays are hanging out to forage in Saratoga Passage, just south at Post 13 near Seattle. The same whales do this every spring, delighting locals who wait for them.

Looking Ahead
We've seen the turnaround period; now watch for:

  • First cow/calf pair
  • Peak migration of northbound non-cow/calf pairs
  • First sightings from Alaska
Mother and baby gray whale swim in the nursery lagoon.
Image: Audrey Evans
Mom and Baby in Baja
Dorsal ridge helps identify this as a gray whale.
Image: Craig Hayslip, OSUMMI
Dorsal Ridge
Gray whale migration route
Map: Journey North
Latest News
Post 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 11, 12, 13, 15

Ask the Expert: Opens March 22
What do you wonder about gray whales? Expert Alisa Schulman-Janiger is ready to answer your hardest questions!

Journal: Observe and Describe
Whale researcher Alisa expertly describes her observations. On March 18th her words included this snapshot in time: "The whale surfaced with its head held high and kelp dangling out of its partially open mouth, showing a bit of its yellow baleen." Practice descriptive writing:

Alisa Schulman-Janiger
Meet the Expert

We proudly welcome Alisa Schulman-Janiger, Gray Whale Expert!

Tracking the Migration: Daily Data

What exciting story do the data tell this week? What was the largest day for whale sightings at both point-count posts? This week, look for clues to predict when phase one of the northbound migration (single whales) has peaked. What do you think will happen next? (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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Record Data
Next update April 3, 2013