12 southbound gray whales…more like 12 grays “milling around”
In a few weeks we’ll be watching lots of gray whales heading north along the Santa Barbara shoreline and kelp forests. They will be on their way to their summer feeding grounds in the Bering Sea and Alaskan waters. So we were absolutely amazed to find all 12 southbound-trending gray whales today along the shoreline and kelp forests. It was like a northbound migration in reverse…south instead of north. Do these late migrating whales actually make it down to the lagoons of Ojo de Liebre, Madgalena and San Ignacio? Judging by the amount of meandering, wandering west then east then west and then east, a lot of ground was being covered but the net movement wasn’t much during the single 2.5 hour trip today (12noon – 230pm). There was a lot of interaction between the whales and some rolling around, fins in the air, and other indications of pre-mating or just socializing. All this back and forth and activity made it difficult to get an accurate count for today’s trip. I did my best and I’m going to stick with 12. But it could have been 15, as the whales formed groups, then dispersed, then merged with other groups….all this while changing direction from the front to the side to the back of the boat and visa versa. One of our CINC naturalists swears she saw 2 humpbacks as well. Nobody in the wheelhouse saw them and we did look.
The weather and sea conditions were magnificent again, and this pattern is supposed to hold all week. It was one of the most memorable southbound gray whales in recent history.
You never know what Mother Nature has in store. Bob Perry Condor Express