Showing posts tagged as "whales"
By Jim Covel, Director of Guest Experience
Walking around the Aquarium these days you’ll frequently hear German, French, Portuguese and other languages. The fall “shoulder season” in the travel business is very popular with international travelers, and the Aquarium is certainly a well-known destination for globetrotters. It’s fortuitous that Monterey is also the foreign language capitol of North America, home to the Monterey Institute of International Studies, Defense Language Institute and other organizations that attract language experts. As a result, we’re blessed with staff and volunteers with diverse language skills.
The humans traveling through Monterey from all over the world are only part of the international visitors we see this time of the year. We also see a variety of migrating wildlife as well, and the view from our Wildlife Viewing Station is alive with these other visitors.
The humpback whales being seen daily are better described as seasonal residents, as they spend the summer and fall in Monterey Bay feeding, then retire to warm Central American waters for the winter. Our blue whales fit a similar pattern. We have already been seeing gray whales in the bay, and they usually appear in the winter on their way to Mexico—their travel pattern is certainly confused this year!
While these marine mammals are impressive travelers, migrating several thousand miles each year between northern feeding grounds and tropical winter waters, birds win this travel competition. Shearwaters pass through Monterey Bay in the tens of thousands, from feeding areas as far north as Alaska to their winter homes in New Zealand, Tasmania and other destinations in the Southern Hemisphere. The sooty shearwater may fly up to 40,000 miles per year in an effort to chase summer from the Northern Hemisphere to the Southern Hemisphere. We’ve been watching flocks of tiny phalaropes on their way from arctic nesting areas to wintering grounds off the shores of Peru and Ecuador.
I’m always impressed that a bird smaller than your fist, weighing less than the change in your pocket, can fly over 6,000 miles in a few months’ time. These massive migrations are only possible with the strategic distribution of critical refueling stops along the route. Those refueling stops are wetland areas that provide specific food, water and quiet resting areas for migrating birds. Wetland areas were already in short supply, and with the drought in much of the West the situation has become critical. Wildlife authorities have been creating emergency wetland areas on the Pacific Flyway this fall to avoid disaster by giving millions of migrating birds a chance to recharge and refuel.
Fortunately the waters of Monterey Bay have been rich in food this year and have provided a welcome respite for a remarkable array of wildlife, and have attracted humans from all over the world to enjoy the show that nature is staging for us.
Watch our Monterey Bay cam live
(Humpback photo by Jim Capwell/Divecentral.com)
Happy #WhaleWednesday! Did you know humpback whales can be identified by their flukes, or tails? Each fluke has unique coloring, scratches, bumps—and hitchhiking barnacles!
(Photo: Jim Capwell/Divecentral.com)
This #WhaleWednesday, lunge for lunch! Humpback whales corral schools of anchovies with air bubbles and swim through them, mouths gaping. A single humpback can consume up to 3,000 lbs per day!
(Photo: Efren B. Adalem)
Whales? Check. Dolphins? Check. Seals, sea lions and otters? Triple check! Monterey Bay is still teeming with marine mammals. On Friday, staff and guests spotted eight different species from our wildlife viewing station—in 30 minutes!
(Top photo: Dan Albro, Bottom photos: Jim Capwell/Divecentral.com)
It’s #WhaleWednesday! Have you been enjoying this amazing season on the bay?
Check out our live Monterey Bay Cam
Jumping for joy? Scientists have speculated about why whales—like this humpback calf—breach. Communication? To remove parasites? Or maybe it just feels good to be alive in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary!
Watch our live Monterey Bay cam
(Thanks to Giancarlo Thomae/Sanctuary Cruises for the great photo!)
Life’s a breach! Humpback whales are still in the bay feeding on massive schools of anchovies—and we have the best seats in the house. These graceful giants have been breaching, spouting and feeding just off our decks!
Go whale watching from home with our free computer or mobile wallpaper
Have you seen the amazing wildlife on the bay this season? We’re here to help! We recently upgraded our otter spotter station. A ”scoreboard” keeps track of all the species seen that day—from sea otters to harbor seals, sea lions, whales and dolphins. Using our high-powered binoculars, it’s not unusual to spot over a dozen species of seabirds in a day! Expert interpreters are there to answer questions and add stories about the animals. It’s all about taking advantage of the Aquarium’s greatest asset—Monterey Bay itself!
Want to watch from afar? Check out our live web cam!
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.
Jump for joy! It’s humpback whale season and we’re seeing these graceful giants from our decks every week. Did you know you can use your phone to get updates on animal sightings and special exhibit feedings during your visit? Ask about our text alert program when you arrive.
(Photo: Giancarlo Thomae/Sanctuary Cruises)