Between Phases

"The big push of northbound moms with calves will start to pick up over the next few weeks, but right now we are in a lull between the two northbound migration pulses," reported Alisa Schulman-Janiger, Director Gray Whale Census and Behavior Project on April 5. "The Phase A (non-cow/calf) pulse is almost entirely over. Our counts dropped dramatically over the past week, with only 3-11 northbound gray whales spotted daily since March 28th; this is the first week since December 1st that we have fallen below our weekly average based on our last 10 seasons. We have counted 232 northbound grays (including 5 calves) over the past 15 days. Our northbound count as of 5 April was 1449 northbound grays (including 16 calves); last season at this time we had counted 1062 gray whales (including 11 calves). At 1449 northbound gray whales, we have already passed the full season northbound totals for 22 of our 31 previous seasons!"

Meanwhile, from the research station at Pt. Piedras Blancas, CA, biologist Wayne Perryman's annual cow/calf count is in its second week. He reports: "We sighted 10 c/c pairs this week. Lots of wind cost us 14 hours of effort, but counts are still running high for this early in the season." From Coal Oil Point, Michael Smith of Gray Whales Count remarked on this season's trend to the unusual. On April 3, he wrote: "We continue that trend with a pair of southbound gray whales and a cow/calf pair of northbound gray whales that simply disappeared after passing us." Stay tuned, and watch the data!

Gray Whale fluking near Los Angeles, CA