The California coast in January is the time to see the whales migrating....so I decided to take my grandsons Enzo and Hudson on a whale watching trip. The water was a little choppy for our three hour trip but we did manage to spot many dolphins and sea lions and 6 whales and, the highlight of our afternoon, a momma grey whale and her young calf who swam up very close to our boat. Our naturalist guide said the momma was probably about 45' long and the little one was perhaps 14'. Grey whales are apparently drawn to boats as they go by close to the shoreline. They make one of the longest migrations in the world, 10,000 - 14,000 miles a year from summer in Alaska to winter in the Baja of California where they have their young.
We learned that there are two types of whales, the toothed whales and the baleen whales. The grey whale is a baleen whale with no teeth but rather bristly fringed baleen plates inside their mouths to trap the small sea creatures that they live on. They dive to the bottom of the sea bed and scoop up small crustaceans and then expel the water and mud, holding on to the small edibles.
The next day, we finished our whale adventure by going to the Whale Fiesta at the Cabrillo Marine Aquarium. There the boys made origami whales and clay fish and saw a fun sealife puppet show. There were also aquariums of sea creatures and exhibits encouraging children to take an active role in keeping our oceans clean for everyone to enjoy and the sea creatures to live in.
The boys as sea creatures at the aquarium
and below our momma gray whale with her baby on their migration.
We also learned about the vaquita, the world's most endangered marine mammal. Small porpoises, the vaquitas are known to live in only one place, the extreme northern section of the Sea of Cortez between the U. S. and Mexico where the waters are clean but where they get entangled in the gillnets of fishermen. Both the U. S. and Mexico list the vaquitas as critically endangered (there are estimated to be approximately 97 vaquitas alive today) and they could be extinct in as little as two years if we don't eliminate the gillnets. But efforts are being made and we can save them! To learn more about the vaquita or to make a contribution to save the vaquita, go to www.vivavaquita.org.