Spring: April, May, June
Whale Migration Route
(Click on face of map)
Journey North Begins
Eschrichtius robustus is parading north. Strung out all along
the Pacific Coast of North America from California to Alaska
are the newly-pregnant females. They are followed by the males and juveniles
of previous years. Last come the mothers with new calves. They are the
last to leave the lagoons. Some will stay into May or even June, but
the cow/calf pairs start the journey north during April.
Whales During Migration
whales swimming north are counted by a few scientists and many volunteer
whale-watchers. One counting
group is the American
Cetacean Society. They count passing whales near
Los Angeles (ACS/LA).
Another partnership of groups called(Gray
Whales Count started
in 2005 at Coal Oil Point near Goleta, CA. Gray
Whales Count is a joint research and education project of UCSB's Coal
Oil Point Reserve, Goleta, CA; American Cetacean Society - Channel
Islands, CA; and
Cascadia Research Collective in, Oympia, WA.
census, conducted yearly by NOAA biologist Wayne Perryman, counts
pairs that pass Point
Piedras Blancas. The northbound
cow/calf pairs typically migrate past about
behind the rest of the northbound whales. The extra time in the Mexican
lagoons is important for baby whales. They add blubber and grow bigger
and stronger. This increases their survival chances for the 5,000- to
6,000-mile journey ahead. This is the time when the babies and mothers
serious spring training.
By the time the whales leave the lagoons, a calf is about 19 feet long.
It weighs around 3,000 pounds.
Watching Spoken Here® is a volunteer whale watching group
that counts whales near the Oregon Coast during the journey south
AND the journey north. They count during peak gray whale migration
times coinciding with winter
and spring breaks. Log
on to see the dates of their Whale Watch Weeks and the numbers of
gray whales sighted.
Out: Resident Whales
year a few gray whales stop before reaching the arctic feeding grounds.
If they come across an area with plenty of food, they might stay there
instead. When gray whales find food in places like Washington State or
British Columbia, they are more likely to return there in following
becoming "resident whales" at least for awhile.
Or, a sick whale might stop migrating and stay in one
area, appearing to be a "resident whale."
for a closer look at this baby whale! Photo Keith
mid-May, the spring migration is almost over. In Mexico, all whales have
nearly emptied out of the lagoons. The first babies and moms have reached
Alaska where they're eagerly awaited (see Whale
Fest Kodiak), while others have just passed the census
station at Point Piedras Blancas, CA. They are "bringing up the
of the northward swim, so whale watchers along the Pacific coast can
still see a few whales. It's an epic journey—for some whales,
their very first. For others, it's just another of many such journeys
a long, long lifetime. Each year, we thrill at the news as our observers
share their first sightings of the returning gray whales!
How do whale mothers help their babies prepare for the long journey
Watchers' Lingo: How Far Offshore?
If a whale-watcher on shore calls 'BLOW, 300 degrees at 45 mil,' what
does that mean? Mike and Winston give you a fun lesson on whale watcher's
lingo —including a challenge to use what you learn.
Watching With Mike & Winston
Get a big, clean piece of paper, divide into 12 columns, and lable the
columns as Mike tells you how to log whale sightings. Then learn the
longo and take a photo quiz.
and Calves and Ice, Oh My! Looking for Correlations
What has biologist Wayne Perryman discovered about the relationship
between sea ice and number of calves?
your chance to think like a scientist as you look at a bit of Wayne's
What are four dangers to migrating gray whales, and one that's a particular
danger in the Pacific Northwest?
Whale Enemy Number One
See what Marine Biologist Caitlyn Toropova told Journey North about
the connection between gray whales and killer whales.
What clues help observers on the shore, peering through binoculars,
tell different whale species apart?
That Affect Whales
A world better for whales is a world better for ALL of us. If you'd
like to find out about some of the issues facing whales, this page has
some links. Use the information to choose an issue, find the facts,
and educate others. More people caring about whales means more people
caring about the planet we all share!
Journey by Vivian French
In her 50 years, Old Gray has traveled a distance equal to traveling
to the moon and home again. What's in store for her baby, about to make
his first migration? Whale Journey by Vivian French (1998,
Zero to Ten Limited) is a fact-filled picture book and gripping tale
about the life cycle of the gray whale. See this link to Journey North's
Reading and Writing Connection for this beautiful story.
sure to see other timely lessons on the
December, January, February page.