17 Gray Whales on the Seventeenth of March

Migrating Gray Whale along California Coast 2017

After a long morning of heavy thick  fog and 5-10% visibility, the marine layer lifted just enough to see 17 whales pass along the coast in the afternoon.  At one point there was a total of 7 whales in 3 different groups  displaying nearly every whale behavior including, bubble blasts, spyhopping,  fluke swishing, rolling, pectoral fins, audible blows and  direction changes with mingling in different groups plus at times there was feeding behaviors with  watery sand spilling out of mouths. Towards late afternoon,in less than  25 yards of on shore visibilty , three scuba divers came out of the water   saying they had zero visibility under water and only saw the whales from the surface above water while under the fog layer themselves.

Scuba Divers in Heavy Marine Layer with Low Visibility

Scuba Diver

Spotting Gray Whales in Heavy Fog

Spotting Gray Whales in heavy fog is difficult but not impossible as I learned today.  In  six hours I observed  four migrating gray whales in three separate sightings. Listening for the audible blows in  5 % visabilty helped me identify one whale  along with a very excited group of unsuspecting beach goers visiting from Echo Park.

Blue Skies Gray Whales

After several days of choppy, rough white capped  water making it nearly impossible to spot gray whales let alone the blow spouts, today the sky was blue, the ocean was calmer, the hills and mountains along the PCH are alive and carpeted with lush bright green mixed with bursts of bright orange and yellow  wild sun flowers in full bloom.  At the ocean along the shore you can see from nearly any viewing site the gray whales are migrating in both directions,north and south. It was a busy day counting and observing with 90% visability mild temperature of 64 degrees and strong winds as the day went on. The whale behavior today was varied from the whale photographed above with its head and fluke both out of the water to the complete opposite back floaters with the tip of the chin sticking out and tips of pectoral fins sticking out. In the 5.2 hrs I observed a dozen gray whales, a few sightings were far out along the horizon and several closer to shore merged with north and south bounders making it a busy observation counting day.

 

March Forth! 

Today,  following the calendar command to “march forth”, the gray whales traveled through our observation area with speed .  The four hour sampling day ended with four whales in four stops along the coast at sunset displaying various gray whale behaviors including spyhopping, rolling, fluking  and spouting heart shaped blows. 

Hello March!

What a wonderful start to the month of March, seeing a gray whale breach on the  migration north with a view of the Catalina Island in the background! This whale was very active breaching 3 times as well as spyhopping, rolling and showing pectoral fins for several minutes before traveling through with another whale following close behind. I watched this pair travel through the sunline out towards Anacapa Channel Islands.2017-03-01-gray-whale-breach