Monday, April 12, 2010

Whale Watching in Oregon

It was a great day Whale Watching and the ocean conditions were beautiful with light winds and seas, come on down to Dockside Charters and go whale watching aboard the Whales Tail.

Whale Bits
How can you recognize a gray whale?

Gray whales have streamlined bodies with narrow, tapered heads. The upper jaw slightly overlaps the lower jaw. The gray whale has no dorsal (top) fin. But about 2/3 of the way back on the body is a prominent dorsal hump. It is followed 6-12 knuckles along the dorsal ridge that extend to the fluke (tail). Its fluke is about 10 feet across, pointed at the tips, and deeply notched in the center. There are 2-5 grooves on the ventral throat.

How big are gray whales eyes?
An adult’s eyes on top of their mouth and are about the size of baseball. They are located about 8 feet from the tip of the gray whale’s jaws. They also have eyelids, I have also heard you can tell the age of a gray whale by the protein in their eyes (during a autopsy to determine the cause of death).

How long can a gray whale stay under water without coming up for air?
An adult gray whale can stay submerged up to 15-20 minutes.

Do gray whales have teeth?
No. The gray whale is in the sub-order Mysticeti. The Mysticeti whales have a baleen instead of teeth.

Are gray whales friendly?
Visitors to the calving and breeding lagoons sometimes encounter the “friendlies,” gray whales that come up to the small boats and let people to touch them. Gray whales aren’t very friendly during courtship and mating.

How long does a gray whale live?
Grays can expect to live about 40 to 60 years. Some can live 70 years.

At what age do gray whales mate and breed?
Gray whales reach sexual maturity somewhere between 5 and 11 years of age. A gray whale that lives to be 40 years old could have as many as 18 calves.

How long is a gray whale’s pregnancy?
Gestation is 11-12 months. Migration and reproduction are connected, since it’s best for the mothers to reach warm waters before giving birth, gestation is carefully timed. Gray whales have a special adaptation called delayed implantation. The embryo does not start developing in the mother’s body until a few months after she becomes pregnant. After mating in the lagoons (or during migration), the newly pregnant female returns to the arctic feeding waters on spring’s journey north. She feasts for herself and her unborn baby, and migrates south in fall or winter to the nursery lagoons to give birth. By the time she reaches the warm lagoons, the baby has been developing for 11-12 months and is ready for birth. A female usually has one calf every two years.