Friday, October 30, 2009

How's Your Whale Knowledge? Fact or Fiction

1. Gray whales travel in pods …………………………………………...........True /False

2. Water sprays out of a whale’s blowhole………………………………..True / False

3. We only see gray whales during Winter or Spring…………………True / False

4. We have resident gray whales in Oregon waters……………………True / False

5. The whale’s full name is “California Gray Whale”…………….......True / False

6. Gray whales eat fish…………………………………………….………………True / False

7. Orcas are whales………………………………………………………………… True / False

8. Killer whales eat whales…………………………………………….…………True / False

9. We don’t see Humpback whales along the Oregon coast………..True / False


1. False. Pod means family and gray whales are solitary animals. There are some times that you see them close together. During migration, 19,000 whales are passing by and sheer numbers will put them close together. During summer feeding, when the food is plentiful, they will feed in the same areas. And when feeling romantic, there may be multiple whales vying for a female’s attention.

2. False. Whale's lungs are connected to their nose (blowhole) but not their mouth. They cannot blow water out of their blow hole. Some whales start to exhale before they reach the surface, blowing through the water and causing a visible water spray. Gray whale's lungs are the size of two chest freezers, and they empty them in a fraction of a second, causing visible condensation (like our breath in the winter).

3. False. We actually see whales every month of the year along the Oregon coast. We have 19,000 gray whales during winter and spring migrations, plus a group of 200-400 whales that feed along the Oregon and Washington coasts during the summer and fall.

4. False. There is an urban legend of resident whales in Oregon waters, but all the whales along our coast migrate. The migration is to find warm calm waters for giving birth. Babies are born without the insulating blubber layer, and if born in our cold waters they will die from hypothermia.

5. False. The gray whale’s real name is “Eastern Pacific gray whale”. We don’t usually use the “Eastern”, and refer to them as Pacific gray whales. There is one other small group (130 whales) along the Russian coast.

6. False, usually. A gray whale’s throat is only the size of a grapefruit, obviously limiting what it can swallow. Their usual food is amphipods and are found in the mud on the sea floor, or mysid shrimp that are found in the water column in rocky areas. Both are no bigger than mosquitoes and they eat a ton a day. But they are opportunistic feeders and have been known to eat crab larve and small fish.

7. False. Orca’s common name of “killer whale” is really “killer of whales”. We got lazy and quit saying the “of’ and turned them into whales. Orcas were given their name because they kill whales. Orcas are technically the largest dolphins.

8. True. The transient orca’s (killer whale’s) favorite food is baby whales as the adults are too big for them. If they cannot get a baby whale, they will hunt sealions and seals. There is a different type of orca in the Puget Sound called residents and they are fish eaters.

9. False. There are about 1,100 humpback whales that migrate past Oregon with the grays at about the same time. There are also humpbacks that feed along the coast but their food is found 8 miles or more off shore. Occasionally currents will push their food close to shore and we will get to see them feeding. They are often seen by fishing boats, but not usually from shore location.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Wet Cat

video

Bobcat next to Ship

 
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