Friday, December 11, 2009

Gray Whales Dec.11, 2009

Distribution and Migration
The Gray Whale is the most common large whale seen from the western shores of North America. The Gray Whales that migrate along our coast are the eastern north Pacific population. This group migrates south to Baja California in the fall and north to the Bering and Chuckchi Seas in the spring. During these migrations, about 80 percent can be seen within five miles of shore. Approximately 200 feed in shallow waters close to shore from northern California to British Columbia during the summer and early fall.
Gray Whales have one of the longest known migrations of any mammal, up to 6,000 miles in each direction. Their near-shore migration has led to speculation that these animals may not be good navigators. They tend to travel farther from shore during and after stormy weather with high surf. Scientists hypothesize that they may navigate by the sound of the pounding surf, keeping it on their left side while migrating south and on their right while migrating north. When the surf is pounding, they may be able to hear the sounds much farther from shore.

Migration south
After feeding during the summer and fall in the Bering and Chuckchi Seas, the entire Gray whale population migrates south to the calving and breeding lagoons of Baja, California. This southward migration begins in late October, passing by the Oregon coast from December through January. The pregnant females are the first to migrate, followed by the adult breeding males and females, and lastly the juveniles. This southern migration usually peaks off the Oregon coast from late December through early January, with up to 30 whales passing per hour. By mid-February, most of the whales have left Oregon waters. On their southern route, Gray Whales travel continuously at speeds up to five mph and are generally seen farther from shore than during their spring migration.

Migration north
Spread out over a longer period with two separate peaks, the northward migration begins from Baja in late February and continues through May. The number of adults and juveniles passing the Oregon coast peaks in March and April, mother/calf pairs peak in May. The whales tend to travel at a slower rate of speed northward (approximately three mph) and come closer to shore, especially mothers with calves. Sometimes adults and calves perform spectacular breaches to the delight of lucky whale watchers

The Whales Tail is a 26' Zodiac style inflatable boat that carries up to 6 people. It was designed specifically for Dockside Charters to give passengers the utmost in sightseeing and whale watching experiences. The Whales Tail is owned and operated by Captains Gary and Kit.

Join us on an exciting and exhilarating whale watching excursion. The Whales Tail offers a unique vantage point that puts you "up close and personal" for observing Oregon's resident gray whales as they feed along the shores of Depoe Bay. Don't be surprised if you notice the whales watching you as intently as you watch them.

Gary or Kit will provide you with a once in a lifetime experience that is not to be missed. After a trip on the Whales Tail you'll be telling tales of all the whales and wonders you've seen on your adventure off Depoe Bay.