Gray Whales on the Move:
Can You Spot the Babies?

(Back to Overview)

Big Blow, Little Blow
It isn't easy spotting a gray whale calf as it starts its journey north with mom. Observers at our observation posts must look carefully before adding a calf sighting to the day's whale sightings. How good are you at spotting calves? Here, look for a big blow and a little blow. That's a clear sign!

Where's Mom?
Up popped this active little calf passing Observation Post #7. Is it taking a breath? Looking around? Riding on Mother's back? Mothers stay close to their babies, so you know she is near. Mom will have her fins full, just keeping track of this active baby as they swim 5,000 miles to their arctic feeding grounds!

Staying Close
Moms and babies pass very close to shore at Point Piedras Blancas (Journey North's Observation Post #8). You don't need binoculars to see them! Like children everywhere, baby whales stay close to Mother. A calf often rolls along Mom's back as she surfaces for air, or rides on Mom's back. The pair often stops in coves to rest. They take time out for the calf to nurse.

What to Look For
"We suspect a cow and calf pair if we see a single whale in close, if the whale is traveling slowly or surfacing more frequently, or if we see an extra splash or movement," says Michael Smith at Post #7. This baby gray whale and mother were such a gentle pair that they hardly disturbed the water! What other cow/calf behaviors do observers see during migration? Their field notes each day are full of notes that tell us.

Sometimes Hard to See
"Hey, it IS a whale," exclaims Michael Smith at Post #7. "Moments later the calf surfaced. After being so stealth, they were all over the place for the next hour as we watched them pass."

Do you think this delightful pair would have been seen and counted if the wind was whipping up waves? If the air was hazy or foggy? Whales travel 24/7, but observers aren't always there to see them. Observation quality isn't always good. Seeing them is a thrill!

Clowning in the Kelp
This clowning calf was fun to watch. Volunteers counting whales at Post #7 said, "It was all over the place, up and down, over and under. Both the cow and the calf were at the surface a lot in their slow travel past us." They have a long swim ahead. It's good to play along the way! Living its entire life in the water, do you think this calf ever wonders: Are we there yet? Gray whales are always on the move!


Copyright Journey North. All Rights Reserved.