Showing posts tagged as "monterey bay"
Here’s something to get your brain working on a Monday morning: What’s the largest creature on earth? Hint: We’ve been seeing them recently in the bay! (Steve Johnston photo)
Senior Guest Experience Trainer Steven Johnston has been following a certain humpback whale—nicknamed Big Fin—for more than a decade. But after no sightings for two years, he feared the worst. Then, in mid-May, Big Fin returned to Monterey Bay! We’ll let Steve pick up Big Fin’s story….
I first was introduced to this whale in 2004 by the captains of Sanctuary Cruises out of Moss Landing. They had nicknamed her “Big Fin” due to the unusual shape of her dorsal fin. The captains told me they had first seen her in 2001, and each year since. Each odd-numbered year she had a calf. One of the best things about Big Fin is that she almost always hung out two to three miles outside Moss Landing, so she was often the first whale we saw on the way out or the last whale we saw on the way in.
In 2008, one of our volunteers sent me a photo of a whale tail that he had taken. I e-mailed him back and said, “I know that whale!” He had sent me a photo of Big Fin without ever knowing her story!
In 2010 I was doing a presentation about humpbacks, and invited Kate, one of the captains of Blue Ocean Whale Watch, also out of Moss Landing, as my guest. As Kate looked at my photos, she yelled, “I know that whale—I have her photo in my boat for passengers!”
In 2011 I went out with Blue Ocean in June. At that point Kate had not seen Big Fin yet that year, but we were hopeful. About a mile out she spotted a blow another couple of miles out. As we got closer, Kate yelled to me that she was sure it was Big Fin. Sure enough! We could also see that the baleen in the front of her mouth is white and shriveled, perhaps due to gum disease, or possibly damage to her jaw from fishing gear. It clearly isn’t very functional. She tips her head back and uses baleen that is farther back in her mouth to filter out her food, so the damage may not be in her whole mouth.
In 2012 no one that I know saw big Fin, and we were afraid that our friend might indeed have died of old age. However, on May 14 of this year, Kate said they had seen Big Fin that morning, and picked her out in the distance by her feeding method! It’s really good to know that our old friend is still around. No calf in sight, so she may indeed be old, but she’s still here!
Did you know that the whale-watching season is in full swing? There have been sightings of humpbacks, blue whales (the largest creature on earth), and even a pod of orcas! (©Jim Capwell/www.divecentral.co)
Need a little beach time? Our Monterey Bay HD web cam now includes multiple views. All that’s missing is the scent of the ocean!
Can you see us? It’s not always easy! With the great summer weather, boat traffic is up. Just this week a threatened southern sea otter was found dead on our coast. Autopsy showed severe blunt force trauma consistent with a boat strike. Be extra-vigilant and give sea otters a brake—it’s the law!
You never know what cool animals will be show up in our Underwater Explorers dive program! For the benefit of the kids, our husbandry staff recently released a small (and harmless) leopard shark into the Great Tide Pool! It will swim out with the next high tide, and into the bay!
Leopard sharks are considered shy and skittish, virtually harmless to humans. They feed primarily on bottom-dwelling invertebrates like crabs, shrimp, clams and octopus, as well as some bony fishes including anchovies, smelts and even some other bottom-dwelling sharks and rays.
We recently released our smallest female sevengill shark into Monterey Bay. During the 11 months we had her on exhibit, the shark gained 3 1/2 inches and two pounds!
What does Abby think about her new digs at the Monterey Bay Aquarium? We invite your creative caption!
Wondering how you’re going to make it to the weekend? We’ve got a solution: Mediterranean jellies!
Did someone ring the dinner bell? Humpback whales have arrived in Monterey Bay, thanks to ocean upwelling. Learn more in our latest podcast!
Photo: ©Jim Capwell/www.divecentral.com