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Final Gray Whales Count

For the last 105 days, Michael H Smith has been counting northward migrating Gray Whales off the coast of California. Last year was a spectacularly poor year; so how did their numbers compare this year and what is the cause of these reduced numbers?

Michael's project is only a small part of the Gray Whale Census run by NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) but with the results from this, and other counts, we will establish whether climate change is affecting the migration of Gray Whales, and their ability to breed.

Report information

Michael H Smith's Gray Whale Count

GWC 2008 May 09 - Day# 103

We are approaching the end of our survey. Sunday is our last day on the Point for this year and we do expect to have some zero days at the end. Even so, we want more calves to be coming by. If we can manage five calves over the weekend, it will be a fifteen percent increase from last year. While it is not up to where it might be, that is pretty OK.

Totals today:
Northbound Gray Whales 0 Calves 0

Totals for season:
Northbound Gray Whales 643 Calves 57

GWC 2008 May 10 - Day# 104

Two, northbound, Gray Whale cow/calf pairs reminded us: "We aren't done yet."

Our first pair was sighted just after nine. We got a call from Captain Dave Beezer on the Condor Express as they were approaching Campus Point from the east. We could not see them in Goleta Bay, but not much later we saw the boat and two whales gently making their way along the kelp and around Campus Point towards Coal Oil Point where we were adding them to the Count.

At the end of the day, another whale-watching boat, the Speed Twin, appeared on the other side of Campus Point. Moments later we saw what they were watching: our second, Gray Whale cow/calf pair of the day.

It was an oddity, seeing the whales with the boats. After the first week of March, we have not seen many whale-watching boats as they were spending most of their time heading south and east from Santa Barbara Harbor to see the early-arriving Humpback Whales. We are glad the captains got to show some folks the new generation of Gray Whales.

Totals today:
Northbound Gray Whales 4 Calves 2

Totals for season:
Northbound Gray Whales 647 Calves 59

GWC 2008 May 11 - Day# 105 - Final Day

Yesterday, we counted our fifty-ninth calf. It was not a good year, so far, for calves. We do hope more are coming and that they will be noted by the Piedras Blancas group.

For total whales, though, we had a record six hundred forty-seven. The Counters had a terrific year. Their dedication and enthusiasm melded into an extraordinary team effort. And it was a big team.

Totals today:
Northbound Gray Whales 0 Calves 0

Totals for season:
Northbound Gray Whales 647 Calves 59

Project Coordinator of Gray Whales Count

Further Reading:

Next report: Gray Whales reach Alaska
Last report: First calves spotted
Michael H Smith's Count feeds into the NOAA Gray Whale Census

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