Gray Whale Migration Update: February 4, 2009

Today's Report Includes:

  • The Longest Mammal Migration is Underway! >>
  • Whale Watching: News from Observation Posts >>
  • Journal Question: What's a Good Nursery?>>
  • Tracking the Migration: Using Daily Data ≥≥
  • Links: This Week's Gray Whale Resources ≥≥
Teachers: Getting Started

Meet Baby "Katy 2.5" and Mom. How did the baby whale get that name? >>
Photo Adrienne Deliso, Baja Ecotours, Laguna San Ignacio

The Longest Mammal Migration is Underway!

As you sit in your cozy classrooms today, where are the Pacific Gray whales? Are you surprised to learn that many are still plowing south on their 5,000 to 6,000-mile swim from Alaska to Mexico? Click on the globe to discover their migration route. For whale watchers along the way, it's the greatest show on Earth!

But most gray whales are in the warm lagoons of Mexico's Baja peninsula right now. Why do they migrate? How can observers spot them? And just how long are those one-ton babies? Why are they fondly called pickleheads? Read to find out in Gray Whales: The Monumental Migration.

  • Slideshow version >> OR
  • Print-and-Fold Booklet (pdf) >>
Whale Watching: News From Observation Posts
Explore! Life in the Nursery Lagoons >>

Babies in "Nursery" Lagoons
While whale observers along the California coast (click #6 and #7 on the globe) have spotted a few whale s migrating north, the real action right now is in the warm lagoons of Mexico's Baja Peninsula. The whales swim all this way to mate and give birth — two important life cycle events. Most births take place in two lagoons. (Click on #2 and #3 on the migration route map and link for more.)

For centuries gray whales have migrated to Mexico to give birth to their young. We know why people like Mexico in winter, but why do the whales go there? Explore life in the lagoons to find out.

Photo: Keith Jones

A curious and friendly mother and baby gray whale come to a tourist boat in one of Mexico's nursery lagoons.

Journal Question
  • What do you think makes the lagoons of Baja Mexico such good gray whale baby nurseries? Name at least two conditions, and tell why each is important.

Write your ideas in your Gray Whale Journal. >>

Tracking the Migration: Using Weekly Data

Where are those gray whale adults and babies (calves) this week — and which direction(s) are they going? Click the Migration Data link at right to find out. With each Journey North report, you can view current migration data showing the gray whale counts from two California counting stations (#6 and #7 on the globe above). This is called a point count. Our handout (see right) offers questions about the latest data.

You may wish to graph gray whale data through the whole season using blank student data sheets and graphs in this lesson:

  • Lesson: Tracking Gray Whale Migration from California Observation Posts >>
Current Gray Whale Migration Data >>

Questions About This Week's Data >>
This Week's Gray Whale Resources
  • Lesson: Tracking Gray Whale Migration from California Observation Posts >>
  • Gray Whales for Kids: Mammals Just Like Us! >>
  • Highlights: Holy Cow: What a Calf! >>
  • Tour: Whale-watching at the Gray Whale Nursery >>
  • Gray Whales for Kids Overview (booklets, photos, videos) >>
More Gray Whale Lessons and Teaching Ideas!

The Next Gray Whale Migration Update Will Be Posted on February 18, 2009.