The weather has shaped up to be spectacular this weekend. I’m heading out on a morning whale watch trip tomorrow out of Redondo Beach Sportfishing. We’re expecting calm seas, clear skies and great visibility. It’s a huge difference over last year’s rainy weather that kept so many boats from going out.
This week and next week mark the “turnaround time” for the Pacific Gray Whales. Some whales are still heading south to the lagoons of Baja, but others have already visited and are heading north again. Yesterday eight whales were spotted from Pt. Vicente by the census team – five southbound whales and three northbound. So they’re comin’ and goin’!
What’s even cooler is the opportunity this presents more chances to catch a view of whales. On yesterday’s trip on the Voyager they caught sight of a southbound whale and followed him for a bit and then caught up with a northbound whale which they were able to follow back towards the harbor. Word lately is that the northbound whales aren’t in as much of a hurry and there have even been reports of behaviors like lunging and breaching (jumping out of the water). Many boats are also catching sight of a variety of dolphins, Risso’s Dolphins have been spotted regularly and have even been approaching the boats (they’re rather aloof).
You can get updates of current census counts at the American Cetacean Society’s page.
The news isn’t all good for the whales that use are aquatic superhighway of the coast. Here’s an alarming story from the LA Times about the current population threats as the Bering sea has been warming up since 2000. And perhaps this is evidence of the poor conditions for the whales, as a dead yearling Gray Whale washed up in San Pedro. It’s not known if this is the same whale that was injured in a fluke (pardon the pun) incident where a Gray Whale landed on a boat off of Santa Barbara.