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Gray Whale Migration Update: February 24, 1999

Today's Report Includes:

Latest News From the Gray Whale Observation Posts
More northbound gray whales are being sighted and experts believe that their migration has now shifted from southbound to northbound! Despite recurring storms on the West Coast, more gray whales are being counted each day, reports Susan Payne from Kodiak, Alaska.

Susan Payne with son Will Ross H. Dumm

The highlights of this week's report are provided below, along with:

This Week's Highlights from the Migration Trail

Northbound Sightings
More gray whales are now on their way north! As of Monday, February 22, 65 northbound gray whales had been counted by the American Cetacean Society (ACS) census from Point Vicente on the Palos Verdes Peninsula near Los Angeles (33.44N,-118.24W), and ACS believes the migration has now shifted from southbound to northbound. At the Channel Islands Marine Sanctuary near Santa Barbara (34.40N,-119.69W) whale-watch charters reported northbound gray whales daily over this past weekend. Monterey Bay Whale Watch reported their "first" northbound whale on February 11 and on February 22 reported 4-10 gray whales in three hours of observation (36.67N,-122.00W). Storms on the West Coast are preventing some whale watch efforts all along the coast.

Southbound Sightings
Some southbound migration continues off of both Los Angeles and Monterey. CNN reported, on February 18, that the gray whales had arrived a month later than usual at their breeding lagoons in Mexico. I will try to find some confirmation of this report. In the meantime, see if you can answer:

Challenge Question #2
"Why do most gray whales make such a long journey of 10,000-12,000 miles each year, leaving southern waters for northern seas?"

(To respond to this Challenge Question, please follow the instructions at the end of this report.)

Susan Payne
National Marine Fisheries Service
Alaska Fisheries Science Center
Kodiak, Alaska

Report your FIRST Gray Whale Sighting to Journey North

Report the FIRSTnorthbound Gray Whale you see this spring to Journey North!

If you're on the West Coast, we hope you'll help provide gray whale migration data this spring. To track the whales' trip to their northern feeding grounds we are collecting the following information:
  • Date of first sighting of northbound gray whales.
  • Date of first sighting of northbound gray whale mother/calf pairs.

Obviously, you would need to watch for whales every day to accurately report these "firsts" of the season. Therefore, we encourage you to contact the captain of one of the many whale-watch vessels in your area. These people are lucky enough to be out every day and can provide accurate data for you.

Helpful Links and Special Thanks!
Today's data and observations were generously shared by the many people named in Susan's Field Notes, and by the following organizations:

How to Respond to Today's Gray Whale Challenge Question:

1. Address an e-mail message to:
2. In the Subject Line of your message write: Challenge Question # 2
3. In the body of the message, give your answer to the question above.

The Next Gray Whale Migration Update will Be Posted on March 10, 1999.

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