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Gray Whale Migration Update: May 1, 2013
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First sightings of gray whales in Kodiak, Alaska, came just in time for Whale Fest. At the other end of the whale trail, it's rush hour for mom/baby pairs!

This Week's Update Includes:

Image of the Week
Poster for Kodiak Whale Fest 2013
Image:: Stacey Studebaker
Celebrating Whales
News: Rush Hour for Moms and Babies?
The joyously awaited first gray whale sightings from Kodiak, Alaska (16), thrilled observers on April 24, later than usual, but just in time for Kodiak Whale Fest! Seward Major Marine tours reports seeing grays almost every day—not just adults, but cow/calf pairs, too. In Tofino, B.C. (15), Kati Martini reported that numbers of gray whales seem to be peaking, but they still await their first confirmed cow/calf sighting.

Whales Passing California
"We are at our highest northbound cow/calf count (to date) in 15 seasons," reports director Alisa Schulman-Janiger at Post 6. Their biggest calf day was on April 24 with 15 northbound calves! "We rarely see as many as 15 cow/calf pairs in one day; we have exceeded that number in only four of our 30 census seasons, including 20 pairs seen on May 1 last season!" See Alisa's field notes for observations that made her exclaim, "What a terrific day for cow/calf pairs!"

At Post 7, Michael Smith reported daily surprises, including 22 whales on April 28; a stand-up paddler following two cow/calf pairs a distance of perhaps 1-1/4 miles on April 27; and a message from the whale-watching boat Condor that 18 gray whales, including nine delightful calves with all the right moves, would pass Counter Point after dark—too late to be seen and recorded in the totals. More in photos and field notes!

At Post 8, a scientific study site, numbers are rising! Wayne Perryman reported 82 cow/calf pairs last week. "We have seen a lot of pairs rolling through over the week end. Next week should be a good one!" Wayne tells us how observers can tell the difference between babies and year-old gray whales.

"Gray Whales are still trickling through Monterey Bay (9) in low numbers in the lull between the peak of the adult migration and the anticipated peak of the cow and calf migration," reports Katie Dunbar. No cow/calf pairs yet!

Any Whales in Mexico?
"This weekend more or less marks the end of Baja gray whale watching for this year," wrote Keith Jones on April 21. "There are still perhaps 100 whales inside Laguna Ojo de Liebre, but the tourists have stopped coming and all the whale watching boats are being stored away until next year." We'll be there!

Looking Ahead
"Although the peak of the northbound gray whale cow/calf migration phase likely passed our census site at Pt. Vicente this week, we should be seeing more northbound cow/calf pairs over the next two weeks," states Alisa at Post 6. When will we see the peak of the migration of cow/calf pairs at other posts?

Northbound gray whales passing Kodiak Island, Alaska
Video: Sharon Schlup
Back in Alaska!
 
Diving gay whale's  tail
Image: T. Cross
Peaking at Tofino, BC
 
Labeled image of migrating gray whale mom and baby
Image:Michael H. Smith
Clues to Calves
 
Image:Michael H. Smith
Tale of a Wayward Calf
 
Gray whale migration route
Map: Journey North

See Latest Field Notes:
Post 3, 6, 7, 8, 9, 15, 16

Ask the Expert: Answers are In

How smart are gray whales? Do they live in families like they said in the movie Big Miracle? What are three big questions Alisa herself wonders as a scientist studying gray whales? Find out how Alisa Schulman-Janiger, our gray whale expert, answers the fascinating questions you sent:

 

Alisa Schulman-Janiger, Journey North's gray whale expert
Alisa Schulman-Janiger

Tracking the Migration: Daily Data
This week, look at the calf sighting numbers at point-count posts 6 and 7 to see a surge in the numbers in this phase (cows with calves) of the northbound migration. Can you now identify the two distinct phases of this migration? What do you predict next?

How to track gray whale migration with Journey North

Gray whale migration analysis chart
Access Data
Record Data
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FINAL update May 8, 2013
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