Back New Records Set Journey North

Gray Whales Count

May 16, 2016

What a week! Two of the three scientific survey sites in California have brand new record high sightings for Gray whale cow/calf pairs heading north!

Numbers at the Gray Whale Census and Behavior Project at Pt. Vicente in Los Angeles set a new record of 319 pairs on May 13, breaking their record count of 318 set last season.

'We saw a mom breach twice. She was the sighting that broke our record and she was about two-thirds of a mile away," reports Director Alisa Schulman-Janiger.

She sums up the season:

"This is our fourth-highest northbound count, our highest northbound calf count, and our second-highest southbound count in 33 seasons!"

Their team of citizen scientists plan to keep counting until May 31 if the gray whales keep coming.

For Gray Whales Count (34.40N, -119.69W) the 250th calf was the record breaker, passing on May 11 and representing the most calves GWC has ever counted in a survey.

"Yes," said Director Michael H. Smith, "each calf following in this — our 12th —survey will also be a record breaker. We love them all, but #250 will always be a warm spot in our hearts."

Numbers of mothers and babies passing near Santa Barbara just keep coming! On May 15, Director Smith wrote:

"In the early morning light, three pairs were close together — slow, soft, blowing, spyhopping, head-lifting, in the kelp nursing, and heading northbound. Just about as perfect as it gets."

At Pt. Piedras Blancas Lighthouse in CA (35.66N, -121.28W) the Eastern North Pacific Gray Whale Calf Production Survey finished the 7th week of the survey with their highest count of the 2016 season (so far): 129 cow-calf pairs were detected, bringing this season’s total to 329. How high will counts go?

With a season as exciting as this, the three California point-count sites remain on duty. Stay tuned!