"> Journey North Gray Whale Spring 2011
Migration Update: February 16, 2011
Please Report
Your Sightings!

Whales are still arriving daily in Mexico but northbound sightings have begun. Our slideshow explores just how big these whales are. And is that a whale valentine in our Image of the Week? Learn why a gray's blow is heart-shaped and explore a tagged whale's travels.

This Week's Report Includes:

Image of the Week

Is it a whale valentine?

A gray whale's blow is heart- shaped. What causes that?
Photo: Michael H. Smith


Whale Watching: News from Observation Posts

Click on the globe to see the migration route. Then click red dots for latest news from our Posts.

This week: See field notes from #1, #2, #3, #6, #7, #9

Tourists touch a whale in Laguna San Ignacio, Mexico.
Photo: Adrienne DeLiso

Whales are on the move and so are hopeful whale watchers, flocking to the Mexican lagoons and the Pacific Coast to see the whales.

Great news comes from Mexico's busy nurseries, where counts are way up from previous years. We have our first news of whales at Magdalena Bay (Post #1), the southernmost nursery lagoon, thanks to whale guide Keith "Baja" Jones. His tour group this week visited three of the four nursery lagoons, where whales are still arriving daily! Find Keith's latest photos and news at Post #3.

Up the California coast at ACS/LA (#6), Alisa Schulman-Janiger reports eight of their 14 northbound whales reported since Feb. 11, so counts are picking up. "We are right in the middle of our migration turnaround, with gray whales going in both directions." At Post #7, "dolphins are grabbing center stage with gusto and flourish" as the northbound gray whale migration is slowly kicking in. With four northbound whales since Feb. 7, Count Director Michael H. Smith reminds us that it is early. The parade is just beginning and there's much excitement ahead!

Slideshow: How Big is a Gray Whale?

What if your eyeball were the size of a baseball? What if your tongue weighed more than 1,000 pounds? You might be a gray whale! How big are gray whales? Imagine ten large elephants lined up in your school hallway. Imagine a full-size school bus parked in front of your school building. Could a whale be that big?

See for yourself in this week's slideshow. You'll soon understand and appreciate the size of these gentle giants!

How big is a gray whale? Slideshow, photo gallery and teaching suggestions
Slideshow, Teaching Suggestions, and More
Tracking the Migration: Using Daily Data

1. View the latest daily migration data.

2. Record, graph and analyze the data. (See instructions.)

3. Explore This Week's Questions.
What do two more weeks of data tell us? Use the Summary and Analysis Chart to record your responses:

  • What do the data from observers at both California posts show about gray whale traffic so far? (Summary of Data)
  • Why do you think zeros are important in data collection? (Make possible explanations)

Daily Data

Gray whale migration analysis chart
Summarize and Analyze
Newsmaker: A Tagged Whale's Travels

"Flex" is the name scientists gave a special whale they tagged for tracking last October on his feeding grounds in Russia. Satellite data show that he's traveled from Russia to the West Coast! But what is this whale doing on the migration route of the eastern Pacific gray whales? See more about the journey of Flex, a gray whale from the OTHER herd: the endangered western Pacific gray whales. Where is he going? Why is his story so remarkable? You may want to write in your journal. Story:

Links: Gray Whale Resources to Explore!
Gray Whale Trade Books
Books too good to miss!
More Gray Whale Lessons and Teaching Ideas!

The Next Gray Whale Migration Update Will Be Posted on March 2, 2011.