Seals, Whales and Plankton (hopefully)

Post by Jake Levenson, Global Program Officer for Whales, IFAW Headquarters Office

Recently, Grisha and I went out for an evening boat ride to the mouth of the lagoon. We were curious to see if any whales were lingering near the lagoon's ocean entrance. Long before we saw any whales, we found an amazing array of animal life.

First, we saw the seals. A colony was resting in the sun on one of the barrier sandbars, while a few others were in the water.

Thanks to Grisha's sharp eye and quick shout, I managed to snap a quick photograph of a seal eating a fish. A salmon, I think.

Then we saw the whales. A mother and her calf were feeding just past the lagoon's entrace, in water so shallow that their backs were leaving ripples along the surface that reminded me of a speeding boat's wake. We didn't want disturb their feeding, so we kept our distance and quietly watched while they fed happily is water barely nine feet deep. If it was any shallower, I'm convinced they would have bottomed out on the sandy bottom.

Later, I was on lighthouse survey duty again. While the views were woderful, as always, I missed some excellent whale action that the boat-based photo-ID enjoyed. The boat team actually found a gray whale feeding on the surface. From what I know about Western gray whales, this type of surface feeding is very uncommon. These whales usually feed underwater, taking great gulps of seawater, muck and sometimes even sand and mud. They then strain this whole mess through their baleen, leaving just the food behind in their mouths.

I will try to share some of these surface feeding pictures later. But, for now, Grisha and I are about to head out for a plankton tow. More on that in my next update.

Comments: 1

5 years ago

Spotted seals are not fat they are fluffy.

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