Sunday, April 11, 2010

Oregon Whale Watching

The Whales Tail had a great day whale watching, we saw several whales close to shore feeding. We also had some good sightings of a mother and her new born calf, the first for this year.
Whale Bits

What do newborn calves look like?
Newborns are dark gray to black, some may have distinctive white markings, a calf weighs between 1,100-1,500 pounds. Babies weigh between 1500-2000 pounds when they are about 15 feet long.

What do baby gray whales eat?
Whales are mammals, so calves nurse on their mothers milk. They nurse between 6 to 8 months. They will drink about 50 gallons of mother’s milk each day. Whale milk is very rich, about 53% fat. (Human milk is about 2% fat.)

Where are the baby grays born?
Mating and calving occur mainly in the lagoons of Baja California, Mexico. The shallow, warm, sheltered lagoons are great nurseries. But, calving and mating are sometimes seen during the migration, too.

What makes the lagoons good nurseries?
The lagoons are safe from hungry orcas whales/killer of whales. The warm water helps the calves stay warm until they gain blubber. Also, the salty water makes the babies more buoyant so it’s easier for them to nurse.

Why do mothers and calves stay in the lagoons for 2-3 months?
It allows the calves to build up a thick layer of blubber. They need blubber for energy to swim during the northward migration. Blubber keeps them warm in the colder waters.

Are whales good mothers?
Yes, Mothers are very protective of their calves. They earned the name “Devilfish” from early whalers in the lagoons because of their violence towards whalers who killed their babies.

What happens when a baby whale is born underwater?
The mother supports her calf at the surface for its first few breaths of air. She brings the baby up to the surface with her own back and flukes.

When are gray whale calves born?
Calves are usually born in late December to early February in the lagoons of Baja California, Mexico. More than half of the births occur in Laguna Ojo de Liebre.

How big are baby gray whales when they’re born?
Calves can gain 60 to 70 pounds every day on their mother’s milk. They can reach 18 to 19 feet in length in their first 3 months of life.

Can baby whales swim right away?
Within about three hours of birth, a calf can keep itself afloat and swim on a steady course. A calf may rest on its mothers back or fins until it becomes a stronger swimmer.

What do gray whales eat?
Gray whales feed on small crustaceans such as amphipods, and tube worms found in bottom sediments. They feed mainly during the summer months of long daylight hours in the Arctic waters of the Bering and Chukchi seas. They can eat a ton a day of shrimp like amphipods. Gray whales are like cattle on a open range, they travel where ever they can find food. I have seen the resident grays whales we have off Depoe Bay feed for weeks in one area, then move 1-2 miles and feed for a month.

How do gray whales eat?
Since gray whales have no teeth, they capture and strain their baleen, which hangs from the roof of the mouth. Grays are the only bottom feeding whales. When they feed, a whale dives to the bottom, rolls on its right side and gulps mouthfuls of mud from the bottom. As the whale closes its mouth, water and sediments squirt out through the baleen plates. This leaves the amphipods stuck to the baleen inside their mouths. Whales then use their tongues to loosen the amphipods from the baleen, and swallow.

Nautical Bits
Flotsam - Debris or cargo that remains afloat after a shipwreck.
Jetsam - Debris ejected from a ship that sinks or washes ashore.
Splice the mainbrace - It use to be an order given aboard naval vessels to issue the crew with a drink.
Binnacle list - A ship's sick list. The list of men unable to report for duty was given to the officer or mate of the watch by the ship's surgeon.
Berth - A bed or sleeping accommodation on a boat or ship.

Thank you for visiting our website, we hope to see you aboard the Whales Tail.