Migration Update: March 3, 2011
Please Report
Your Sightings!

“We have a migration,” proclaimed Michael Smith after a big day of northbound sightings. Visit the lagoons in this week’s slideshows and video clip. Touching a baby whale, the teen in this image tells how it feels. What does it mean if a whale-watcher calls 'BLOW, 300 degrees at 45 mil'? Decode when you learn some whale watcher's lingo.

This Week's Report Includes:

Image of the Week

Find out from kids:

What does a baby gray whale's skin feel like?
Photo: Keith "Baja" Jones


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

Photo: Jim Taylor, Baja Ecotours

With 13 northbound whales on Feb. 27, Michael Smith (Post #7) proclaimed: "We have a migration." That was a big day for ACS/Los Angeles (#6), too. "We are nearing the end of our migration turnaround; most gray whales are heading north, but we are still getting southbound whales," reports Alisa Schulman-Janiger.

In the nursery lagoons, mothers and babies now rule. Alex, Addie, and Chelsea are some lucky kids who tell us what they saw in two of the lagoons. How does Addie describe the feel of a baby whale's skin? We have fascinating field reports from Lagoons #1, #2 and #3!

Meanwhile, ACS/LA's Alisa Schulman-Janiger notes: "This season the southbounders kept coming and the northbounders started late; however, with reports of many grays in Baja, I expect our counts to pick up soon, giving us a final count higher than last season's." That would be news to celebrate.

When will see the season's first northbound cow/calf pair be spotted? It should be soon. Stay with us!

Slideshows: Visit the Nursery Lagoons!

Visiting a Gray Whale Nursery

Who is Kissing a Baby Whale?

Video Clip

Touching a Gray Whale
Tracking the Migration: Using Daily Data

The weather took its toll on several days. "If we cannot see, we cannot count," Michael Smith sums up.

Still, both California point-count sites had their biggest days so far. "The last day of February was further indication that the migration flow has begun. We saw eight northbound gray whales and that made twenty-one for the past two days, a nice pace for this time."

Explore This Week's Questions
This week, notice a pattern and write a prediction.

  • What pattern do the data from both California posts show about gray whale traffic so far?
  • What changes do you predict you'll see when your next data comes in two weeks? Why?

Tracking the Migration Using Daily Data

Tracking the Migration Using Daily Data

View, record, graph, and analyze the latest data from California Posts #6 and #7.

Go Figure: How Far Offshore?  Gray Whale Journal
  • Post #6, Feb. 22: Our first gray whale was large, northbound, close enough to hear its blows.
  • Post #7, Mar. 1: A trio of gray whales appeared due south, a long way out.

Whale watchers know the first sign of the gray whale will probably be its spout or “blow”—a bushy tower of spray. A blow may be visible for miles on calm days. But how can whale watchers tell how close or far that whale is? How do they call out the sighting so others can see it too? Mike shows you how.

Whale Watcher's Lingo: How Far Offshore?

Answer this after your lesson with Mike:

  • If you hear a fellow whale-watcher call "BLOW, 300 degrees at 45 mil," how far offshore is that whale?

Write responses and further questions in your Gray Whale Journal.

Photo Mike Hawe
See the blow? When a gray whale surfaces, it exhales.
In a split second the whale empties lungs the size of a VW. The warm air blasts out with such force that the spouts can be 15 feet high and might be heard a half mile away.
Links: Gray Whale Resources to Explore!

What do you see?
Photo The Orca Network
More Gray Whale Lessons and Teaching Ideas!

The Next Gray Whale Migration Update Will Be Posted on March 16, 2011.