According to local whale watchers our first confirmed blue whale was sighted last week a few miles off of the Mission Bay area in San Diego! Since then the Gray Whale Census and Behavior Project at Point Vicente spotted one as well on March 26th! The next day, we were lucky enough to encounter our first blue whale sighting during our gray whale watches! When we all heard the news we got super excited and we hope that this means we are going to have a good blue whale-filled summer. Usually, we will see blues as early as February coming in to ‘scout’ for krill and see what the goods are like off of our coast. I hope they report back to the others that we have plenty! UPDATE: Our most recent sightings of a blue whale was just on April 2nd!
This season is still pretty up in the air since we are officially in a NOAA certified El Niño. During an El Niño season, our water temperatures warm and the bottom of the food chain species move to colder waters and their predators follow. This is also true for whale species since they do feed on smaller prey items. Blue whales exclusively eat krill off of our coast, which are usually in abundance here during the summer upwelling and prefer colder water. Basically, we don’t know what the blue season is going to be like and this will be very interesting for me since it is one of the first El Niño seasons I will be experiencing since I have been working on the boats. I am very interested to see how it is going to pan out.
We are still seeing lots of grays! Just a few south-bounders are still trickling in and our total southbound count according to the American Cetacean Society Gray Whale Census is now 1895; still at an all-time high. North bounders have been going super strong with 1,413 already and 16 calves! Note that this census breaks the northbound and southbound into two different groups though some of those individuals could be the same since the whales are making a roundtrip migration. We have some photos of our gray whale encounters from the last few weeks along with the other wildlife we have been seeing from our photo ID interns, Tim Hammond, and Eric Combs!
The gray whales are still going strong and with the excitement of the first blue whales, humpbacks, fin whales, minke whales, and of course tons of dolphins, now is a great time to come out! So, if you are looking for a perfect way to spend your spring break with friends and family, look no further. We have the most amazing wildlife right off of our coast and they are very accessible! Join us on a whale watch or a harbor cruise to enjoy the sunshine and the time off from school or work!