What a show! If you haven’t gone whale-watching—or spied them off our ocean-view decks—you better get going! It’s turning out to be another fantastic year. Massive schools of anchovies are attracting hundreds of dolphins, seals, birds and these gentle giants—it’s a feeding frenzy!
Some boats are seeing 70 whales spread over several miles. Humpbacks are one of the more common baleen whales in the sanctuary, mostly during summer and fall as they feast on krill and schools of anchovies and sardines. A humpback can consume up to 3,000 pounds per day! They use use air bubbles to herd, corral or disorient fish. They often feed in the same spot for several days, making these whales easy to find. Humpbacks are the favorite of many whale-watchers, as these whales frequently perform aerial displays, such as breaching or slapping the surface with their pectoral fins, tails, or heads. These whales are believed to winter in the coastal waters of Mexico and Central America and like blue whales, are still considered endangered.
Think you travel a lot? The diminutive red knot probably has you beat, traveling from the Arctic Circle to Tierra del Fuego—a distance of 9,300 miles each way—each year. And it does it all under its own steam.
We just added two of these long distance flyers to our Aviary exhibit. You can also view them on our live web cam.
While red knots could put most business travelers to shame, ours have been forced to stick closer to home, due to permanent wing injuries. The pair (a male and female) flew here—in a plane—from the Florida Aquarium, which has hosted them for more than a decade.
Reading up on Red Knots
Red knots (Calidris canutus) are one of the larger sandpipers, and can live to a ripe age. Scientists recently discovered a 21-year-old.
The birds, which grow to 10 inches, can occasionally be seen in local estuaries such as Elkhorn Slough. But these sightings are rare. These mileage champs breed in some of the coldest places in the world, and winter in some of the hottest. While they travel vast distances, red knots depend on certain stops along the way to fuel up, such as in Hudson Bay and Brazil. This can create challenges for the birds if food sources—particularly horseshoe crab eggs—are in short supply due to overharvesting.
“We’re really excited to have them,” says aviculturist Eric Miller. “Though they’re not technically endangered, red knots in some parts of the world are declining, and this is a great chance for people to see them.”
Sun seeker? During the day, the spotted jelly travels upward, orienting itself for maximum sun exposure. It’s also known as a “lagoon jelly” because it lives in bays, harbors and lagoons in the South Pacific. But you don’t need to go that far—they’re on exhibit now in the Jellies Experience!
Learn more about the spotted jelly
Learn more about the Jellies Experience
Girls rock science! In June, a group of bright middle school girls, mostly from Watsonville and Salinas, spent an afternoon untying themselves from a human knot and learning secret handshakes as part of a team building exercise. Later, the girls created their own blogs to document their experiences during a week-long summer camp.
The girls are participants in the Aquarium’s Young Women in Science program, which seeks to inspire interest in science and conservation among young women by introducing them to the marine life in and around Monterey Bay. The camp is presented in both English and Spanish, creating an inclusive setting for the girls to learn how they can help save the world’s oceans.
The program is part of a long-term effort by the Aquarium to help young women aspire to careers in the sciences and math, and fight the notion that there’s no place for them in those fields. As part of this girl power groove, participants also get to meet women currently working in the sciences.
Happy #Friday! Love sharks? We just added a beautiful female sevengill to the Monterey Bay Habitats exhibit! It’s 59 inches long and weighs just over 30 pounds.
Learn how we’re helping save sharks
#ThrowbackThursday: Can you see how this pressing of giant kelp inspired our logo more than 30 years ago? As kelp grows, the topmost blade separates and produces tiny offshoots—it’s this thriving “scimitar blade” that forms our logo.
We’re celebrating 30 years—“kelp” us reach future goals!
Ooey gooey! Pacific Grove teacher’s “icky” approach to marine science may earn a national teaching award, $10,000 and an opportunity to meet President Obama. We’re proud to have Stefanie Pechan on our education staff this summer!
Help us create ocean stewards
(David Royal — Monterey Herald)
Did you know that the guitarfish has been playing it flat for 100 million years? We now have three making beautiful music together in our Aviary. It gets its name from a long, pointed snout and guitar-shaped body. It lies in ambush with its eyes sticking out of the sand, waiting for careless crabs to wander by. Lunch!
(Paul Vineyard photo)