Gray Whale Migration Update: April 21, 1999
Today's Report Includes:
Latest News From the Gray Whale Observation Posts
In the north, John Concilius of the False Pass school reports that Gray whales have now reached the Bering Sea!
Off the California coast, some 2,000 miles to the south, fewer whales are being seen now. And at Point Vincente, near Los Angeles, the ACS Census has counted far fewer Cow/calf pairs so far this season as compared to last year at this time.
(To respond to this Challenge Question, follow the instructions at the end of
Gray Whales Reach The Bering Sea
On the afternoon of April 19 John Concilius of the False Pass school, talked to a pilot from Nelson Lagoon (55.92N,-161.35W) who said he saw several gray whales on the Bering Sea side of the Alaska Peninsula as he was flying to False Pass. On Sunday, April 18, fishermen spotted gray whales near False Pass on the Pacific side of the Alaska Peninsula near the Ikatan Peninsula (54.73N,-163.21W). This sighting is only a couple miles from the school. This "first" sighting seems fairly accurate because John went looking by plane on April 14 and did not see any whales at that time.
Whale Fest Kodiak 1999
This Sunday, April 18, we went out to Narrow Cape with people interested in joining the Audubon whale-watch walk put on for Whale Fest. The weather appeared miserable in the morning and Audubon postponed until next Sunday. However, we decided to go on out with a few hardy souls including Dr. John Ford. When we arrived we saw whales right away. Visibilty was good, but the wind was blowing the whale blows away pretty quickly. The day was my first opportunity to see the newly constructed Kodiak Launch Complex, built by Alaska Aerospace Development Corporation to launch satellites into polar orbit. Last year during Whale Fest there was only roadwork going on; this year, buildings are present. The first launch occurred in early November. We also saw our first newly growing pushki, the local name for Angelica. There is still a lot of snow on the ground, and if not, it is brown grass, so we were thrilled to see this sign of Spring! Along the way to Narrow Cape, we saw about 26 swans, either Trumpeter or Tundra swans.
On Monday night, April 19, the Kodiak Middle school made a presentation about their Baja '99 Adventure. Whale Fest 1999 continues throughout this week with more lectures, kids activities, a poetry reading, movies, radio and television shows, museum exhibits, and children's and local art shows. This Friday on the radio we will interview Nancy Black, of the Monterey Bay Whale Watch, about her study of killer whale predation on gray whales. Nancy is also a Journey North contributor.
The days continue to lengthen: on April 21, sunrise is 0544 and sunset is 2034 for a total of 14 hours and 50 minutes of daylight.
National Marine Fisheries Service
Alaska Fisheries Science Center
Discussion of Challenge Question #5
Last week we asked you to take a look at the sea ice conditions and predict how far north the gray whales can get at this time?
On Monday, April 19, Jim Browning of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game in Dillingham, Alaska flew an aerial survey looking for Herring. Jim reports that from Cape Constantine (58.40 N,-158.85 W) to Cape Newenham (58.65N,-162.03W) there is ice for as far as the eye can see. They fly fifteen miles offshore and are able to scan another 25-30 miles south of them. This information tells us the ice stretches at least 50 miles south of Bristol Bay's shore. During their flight they saw no marine mammals. The last three years they have seen gray whales by the 17th and 18th of April.
From this information and satellite images, and the sea-ice analysis given by the National Weather Service, Alaska Region, it appears that the gray whales are heading into clear water if the "first" gray whales are now between False Pass and Nelson Lagoon. Is that what you observed?
Report your FIRST Gray Whale Sighting to Journey North
If you live along the Gray Whale migration route 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:
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
2. In the Subject Line of your message write: Challenge Question #6
3. In the body of the message, give your answer to the question above.
The Next Gray Whale Migration Update will Be Posted on May 5, 1999.