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Gray Whale Migration Update: February 1, 2012
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Your Sightings!
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Pacific gray whales are still southbound and, with record sightings, it looks like a bonanza year! At the end of the migration trail, baby whales are being born. This week's focus is those cute and curious one-ton babies. Soon their journey north for 2012 will begin. Welcome!

This Week's Update Includes:

Image of the Week
Young gray whale swimming near ocean floor.
Video: RIPproductions9
Babies on the Move
News: Baby Boom?

Gray whales are boogeying past the Pacific coast in record numbers to reach the warm waters of Mexico. Many have already arrived. It's birthing time, and the best place for that is the warm, salty waters of Baja Mexico. The lagoons are like bus stations, with whales coming and going all winter and early spring. New mothers nurture babies, while older whales are there for fun. As they return northward, we'll share sighting news from a network of observers.

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 29th season started off with some record numbers! Project Director Alisa Schulman-Janiger reports: "Our trained volunteers counted more southbound gray whales in December 2011 than in any previous December!" They came in higher numbers and at least one week earlier than normal. So far they've seen just 5 northbound grays.

Baby Boom in the Lagoons?
Tour guide Keith Jones at Laguna Ojo de Liebre (Post #3 on the Migration Route) sent the numbers: 492 adults and 316 babies as of January 23.

Looking Ahead
This season we'll be watching to see the turnaround period—when northbound whales start to outnumber southbound whales. We'll watch for three distinct pulses, or surges in numbers, to discover which age group is migrating. We'll hear from the government's leading expert on gray whale calf production and how it's connected with ice in the Arctic.

Read Field Notes
Click on the map to see the migration route and Observation Posts. Click on a red dot to read the Field Notes at that post.

This baby gray whale is 20-30 days old.
Image: Jim Dorsey
How Young?
 
Chelsea touches a baby gray whale in Laguna Ojo de Liebre.
Photo: Keith Jones
Feel the Skin!
 
Gray whale migration route
Map: Journey North

Latest Field Notes

This week: Observation Post #3 and Post #6.

Photo Gallery: Babies in the Nurseries

Take a look at our baby photo album from the gray whale nurseries. Use the journal page 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

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. Let's get acquainted with the data you'll see—and where it is 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 15, 2012.
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