Gray Whale Migration Update: April 3, 2013
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Peak numbers of adults plus the first moms and babies have been sighted along the California coast! Send questions to Ask the Expert, closing Friday.

This Week's Update Includes:

Image of the Week
Cow/calf pair on their journey north
Image: Wayne Perryman
Moms and Babies
News: Northbound Peak

Single whales flooding from the nursery lagoons brought peak numbers along the California coast, while moms and babies are taking their time in leaving. At Post 6, 260 of the 416 total northbound grays were seen between March 23-29 in what will likely be their peak northbound week. Post 9 reports the peak of the adult gray whale migration through Monterey Bay, CA. They look forward to their first moms with calves in the next two weeks as the pairs leave the lagoons for the long journey north.

Whales Passing California
"Our most exciting day was March 27, when we tallied 74 northbound gray whales—our highest daily gray whale count in 15 years!" reports scientist Alisa Schulman-Janiger at Post 6. "We saw our first northbound calf on March 22." Now it's April, and we should be seeing more and more cow/calf pairs as they leave Baja and head up the coast toward their Arctic feeding areas.

The season's first cow/calf pair sighted at Post 7 reminded us about the obstacles gray whales face in the crowded ocean habitat. Director Michael Smith's March 24 field notes describe that close encounter.

Leaders in the North
Hundreds of visitors eager to see the migrating whales during Spring Whale Watch Week at Post 12 were rewarded. Linda at the Whale Watch Center reports 2,862 sightings at 24 sites in the 8-day event! From this post, gray whales have a 6-8 week swim to Alaska.

Looking Ahead
We've seen the turnaround period and the peak migration of northbound non-cow/calf pairs; now watch for the first Alaska sightings and more cow/calf pairs.

Blowholes are visible on top of this gray whale's head.
Video: BajaEcotour
Breathe and Blow
Gray whale #49 in Cascadia Research's directory, and also known fondly as Patch.
Image: Michael H. Smith
Meet "Patch"
Gray whale migration route
Map: Journey North

Latest Field Notes:
Post 2, 3, 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13, 15

Explore: Navigating Through Obstacles
Monarch butterfly migration map

Gray whales face many obstacles as they navigate their long journey north. After viewing the slideshow, tackle this journal question:

  • How could humans help reduce the obstacles faced by gray whales on migration? Why do you think it's important?

Cover of the slideshow

Tracking the Migration: Daily Data

This week, look at the sighting numbers at point-count posts 6 and 7 for numbers that indicate the peak week for the adult migration north. Also look for signs of the next phase of the northbound migration: cows with calves. How many calves have posts 6 and 7 seen so far? How does this number compare with their sightings last year (go further down on the data page)? What do you predict next?

How to track gray whale migration with Journey North

Gray whale migration analysis chart
Access Data
Record Data
Next update April 17, 2013