Gray Whales,Dolphins,Planes, Birds & Boats Oh My!

26 Northbound 0 Southbound 6 hours 12 Sightings

95% Visibility with hazy horizon, clear view of all islands north and south with Gusty winds. A juvenile red tail hawk was flying low overhead just after the 1st sighting of the day which had an interesting identification mark on the right, distal dorsal hump area.2018-03-17-hawk-pt-dume-74562018-03-18-gray-whales-ID-pt-dume-7730

Dolphins interacted with a courting group 300 yards off shore with grebers nearby. Earlier a small pod headed southbound navigating through the obstacle path along the shore today.

 

 

Several helicopter flyovers today with varying degrees of noise levels and speed.

 

Close encounters with dolphins, swimmers and paddlers along the intersecting use lines.

 

One whale with identifying teeth rake marks on right side knuckle shows evidence of a possible orca interaction.2018-03-18-whale-scar-pt-dume-7497

Three boats traveling FAST  on the northern side of Santa Monica Bay outside the kelp beds, along the whale migration path route the mother and calfs whales often use.  Today’s sightings and observations traveled along paths further out as they headed into the point. 2018-03-18-boats-little-dume-cove-pt-dume-7599

Gray whale flukes as paddler follows close behind, stealthy low profile footprints  as it travels along the coast heading out north west to deeper water passing the buoy 400 yards out.

 

A pair of gray whales traveling closely heading north west on the northern migration to Alaska.

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Happy St Patricks Day 32 Gray Whales in 18 Sightings

32 Northbound 0 Southbound 10 hrs 1 EW 

 18 sightings on St Patricks Day, the 17th of March 2018!  Whale counting and observations started with a Great Egret perched on the fence along the walk in, hunting from above.

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Three gray whales traveling through so fast the blow mist is still on the surface of the water as one is sounding for a deep dive, with the other two keeping pace. The center whale has a distinct identification mark on the right side.

2018-03-17-three-gray-whales-pod-pt-dume-7208Four gray whales on the northern migration, one at the surface exhalation blowing, one under water glowing and two behind. This quad pod is traveling through the Point Dume Preserve Marine Sanctuary  migrating to Alaska.

2018-03-17-four gray-whales-pod-pt-dume-7131One gray whale changed directions in the underwater canyon area in the middle of a larger group of 4-5 whales in a mating courtship before heading northbound with the group above.  The lighter color of this whale is due to scaring from when the barnacles and whale lice fall off  leaving white marks behind. This whale was trackable from a few miles away as it crossed the Santa Monica Bay and reached the transect area.

2018-03-17-gray-whale-glow-underwater-pt-dume-7262One gray whale  spyhopped as another whale continued on and traveled through.

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Here is the outstretched fluke of one whale with the blow of another whale right before these two switched places being submerged and above the water in a very active courting group.2018-03-17-gray-whales-fluke-blow-mating-pt-dume-7364

Every day there are plane flyovers and this day there was four at once in a vintage air show exercise passing over the point in the late afternoon as whales continued the courting and mating behaviors without interruption this time.

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Gray whale blow glowing in the soon to be setting sun in gusty winds and choppy seas.

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What do you see in this cloud as the sun was setting? A rabbit, a heart or a seated teddy bear with button limbs? or all of the above? I see a seated bunny rabbit looking west, holding a heart with a hearts shaped tail, legs, wings and ears 🙂

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Rain or Shine: Gray Whale Migration and Mating

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Today the RAIN came down in buckets alternating with continuous drizzle for several hours in 56 degrees weather before the sun came out mid day and ended the evening with more rain.  The early morning cloudy skies and   limited visibility didn’t stop the whales from migrating or stopping along the Malibu coast to spyhop and show their ventral throat grooves or mate in large and small groups today. At noon there was one group of 4 whales stampeding all in a row directly  into the cove to join a group of 3 already there!  Drone flyer and Malibu photographer Henry Hungerland captured respectful and responsible, mating behavior  late in the day. Henry has been observing and photographing  whales for over 10 years and has seen a few mating groups this year up to a mile out with his drone.

34 Northbound 0 Southbound 5.5 Hours

GRAPHIC WARNING!!!!!! Five Gray Whales Mating Courtesy of Henry Hungerland Photography Drone footage

 

 

 

The Gray Whales Celebrate 3.14 Pi Day 2018

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Today is 3.14 also known as Pi Day!

Pi (Greek letter “π”) is the symbol used in mathematics to represent a constant — the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter — which is approximately 3.14159.

The whales showed up in celebration with  the seasons highest count!  30 whales counted in pulses that lasted all day bringing the total count with reliable eye witnesses to 101 whales! My personal count was 38 which started with a group of 5 with another 3 joining in leaving 8 whales in view in a space of 150 yards! It was hectic and challenging to keep track of all the sightings as the whales joined and moved on over the course of 4 hours. Early in the morning 25 whales were spotted before 9am and then another 30 spotted in the next two hours with whale watchers all over the viewing area in awe! Off duty Lifeguards came to see, watch and count too! The entire viewing area was a standstill, no one wanting to move until the whales moved on! Jaw dropping endless spyhops, back floating, pectoral fins up and flukes out of the water it was like whale soup. The day ended with the clouds rolling in from the north blocking the sunset.

38 Northbound Whales 0 Southbound Whales 7 hours

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Breaching Gray Whale

Why do (Gray)Whales Breach? There are several theories including, communication tool between the whales socially or as a warning,  loosen parasites from the skin or for pure playful fun and enjoyment.  However,  research done in 2016 by  Rachel Cartwright PhD. who studied humpback whales, determined that the exertion required to leap out of the ocean increases the level of myoglobin levels in young whales. Similar to  hemoglobin in humans, myoglobin carries oxygen in the muscles of whales which  allows the whales to be able to dive for longer periods of time.

Today, the first of sixteen sightings began with one of three gray whales breaching along the northern migration route. It is not the best technical photograph  or clear what the whales intention was but it is of value showing a large prominent identification mark just above the right pectoral fin. If you see this whale in the future please  take a photo and post a comment or send an email.

The rest of the day had many whale-human interactions, close encounters, and observations from paddle boarders, boats, drones and planes flying over.

30 Northbound  3 Southbound 3 EW 9 hours

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Paddle boarders over the canyon where the whales stop along the migration route for mating behaviors, feeding behaviors and resting behaviors.

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A Gray whale’s eye can be seen just under the water just before surfacing for a full exhalation.

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Studying  the whales behavior as fast moving yachts, power boats and fishing vessels  transect the whale migration paths. Similar research and documentation has helped to move the cargo shipping lanes further off shore and prevent whale injuries or death from shipping collisions.

Hello Spyhopping Gray Whale

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Today was cloudy and overcast with limited visibility and a heavy yellow hazy ozone layer at the horizon adding an ombre of colors looking towards the island  of Santa Barbara Island to the south west. The ocean water was flat as glass making it easy to see the whales crossing the Santa Monica Bay. Several of the gray whales stopped for few minutes today and  this active pair below spyhopped, rolled and glided their way across the survey area. Hundreds of Common dolphins came in 400 yards off shore which is very close and porpoised their way south and back around north again while hunting. The lemonberry shrubs are ready to bloom with pink buds that will turn into pink flowers then into the pale green velvety seed shape that can be eaten or added to water for a lemony taste.

17 Northbound  1 Southbound  0 EW      9 Hours 2018-03-07-two-graywhale-pt-dume-35697I0A35997I0A36122018-03-07-dolphins-pt-dume-36262018-03-07-lemon-berry-plant-2-pt-dume-3668

Pod of SIX Gray Whales Migrating North to Alaska

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Several large pods of dolphins and whales migrated north today. Reliable eyewitnesses also observed whales in larger pods today. One of whom was a  a wonderful drone pilot, Justin Lamar who shared his drone footage of a pod of SIX gray whales that were traveling North to Alaska. His drone flying skills are technically brilliant, able to navigate a mile or more offshore with ease, his love for  the gray whales is evident in this beautiful cinematic footage.

12 Northbound Gray Whales   0  Southbound      15 (2)EW      2.5 Hours

Justin from JayXLamar Cinematographer

Gray Whales with Views of Snow Covered Mountains

Today was cold in the 50’s with brisk wind with sunny skies and snow topped dusted mountains were in view as 12 whales crossed the Santa Monica Bay, some traveling quickly and others taking their time migrating at their own pace.  One pair crossed the bay and in tandem fluked to avoid hitting red floating debris at the surface. While one whale was tracked only by the large footprints left as it made its way north.

12 Northbound 1 Southbound 0 REW 4 hours

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Two gray whales crossing the Santa Monica Bay with the LA County skyline as a backdrop. LAX tower can be seen to the left and center Dockweiler State Beach, followed by El Segundo and Manhattan Beach to the right.

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View of the San Gabrielle Moutain top coverd with a dusting of snow from the last couple days rain and the Santa Monica City Skyline to the right in the photo.2018-03-04-snow-view-kanan-pt-dume-3309

Another view of the snow dusted San Gabrielle Mountains and the Santa Monica Mountain Range. 2018-03-05-whale-footprints-pt-dume-3347

Footprints of a single stealth or low profile whale traveling north bound on the migration to Alaska along the California Coast.

March Fourth Gray Whales!

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Two Gray Whales traveling north bound above and three whales in a tight group below all traveling north with the one in the center showing its fluke as it sounds or goes for a deep dive.

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On March Fourth! The sky and water were so clear today you could see 8 cargo ships from miles away as well as all of the local Channel Islands including Catalina to the south, Santa Barbara Island to the west, Anacapa and Santa Cruz Islands to the north. The whales were busy traveling north fast in groups of 2-3. There was a photographer in a helicopter and an all around good day!

17 Northbound Whales 0 Southbound Whales in  6 hours

Counting Gray Whales after the Rain

Rain on and off  all morning didn’t keep this observer away from counting the gray whales on their migration north in the afternoon. The clouds to the east were billowy and one was heart shaped while the clouds to the west appeared stormy until the sun dropped below and the colors were spectacular at sunset. The  2 sightings had single whales traveling far out and fast as they fluked on their way through the point and out to the Channel Islands.

2 Northbound Whales 0 Southbound 1 REW  2.5 hours

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Heart Shaped Clouds to the east.2018-03-03-stormy-clouds-at-sunset-pt-dume-3078

Stormy clouds to the west.2018-03-03-sunset-pt-dume-3088

Beautiful colors as the sun dropped below the clouds just before and at sunset. 2018-03-03-stormy-clouds-at-sunset-pt-dume-3100