News from Observation Post #8
Point Piedras Blancas, California, United States

Biologist Wayne Perryman reports:

Update July 15, 2009: Final count of northbound gray whale calves was 86 calves, which is the lowest in the time series for this census.

May 11 (final report to JN): This is a VERY slow year. We saw only 5 cow/calf pairs last week, but the fact that we had a lot of fog didn't help. So we are up to 76 for the year, which puts us firmly in third place for the lowest count over the 16 years of this effort. Ice was heavy last season in Alaska due to a very cold winter, so this is consistent with what we think we understand about the position of ice relative to the feeding grounds when pregnant females swim north. However, I think that this may a stronger effect than we had anticipated.

April 27: We had great weather last week but we are only up to 43 calves so far. This is about the third slowest start in our 16 year time series. On the bright side, on Saturday (officially a day off because we don't have enough money in the budget to pay the observers overtime) we saw 13 pairs go through just in casual watching. So we can say it is a slow start — but maybe we have a big pulse coming.

April 13: We saw 6 cow/calf pairs and 16 adult/juvenile animals this week, bringing our calf total to 8 so far. This is similar to what we saw last year at this time. In casual watching on Sunday (April 12, when we aren't on site counting), one observer saw 5 cow/calf pairs go by. The parade is starting to pick up!

March 30: We had a bit of wind this week but got a good 5 days of effort in. Seeing about 15-20 adults and juveniles a day and the migration is starting to move closer to shore. Based on arctic ice alone, I expect we will have a year very similar to last year.

March 24: Saw 1 cow/calf pair! This is our first week on site at Pt Piedras Blancas.

Feb. 18: Too early! Wayne Perryman will set up for his cow/calf census the last week in March. He reports: "We are working on ice distribution data now to see if we can come up with a prediction before we get up there."



Point Piedras Blancas, California
(35.39N, -121.15W)


1870s Lighthouse at Pt. Piedras Blancas, California



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