Monday, August 30, 2010

A New Whale!

The whale count in the area is increasing! In addition to Ice Cap and Deuce there is a gorgeous new whale that was feeding in the area of Friday. This new whale has striking flukes. Most of the flukes are white, while they are edged in black. Never have I seen gray whale flukes so stunning.

The number of summer resident gray whales that I have observed with white flukes is low; four to be exact. These whales are Scarback, Dine and Dash, Snowflake, and Ghost. Scarback’s flukes have whitened with age, as I have observed this through my photos of her since 1992. On my web site and in my book on page forty five you can see how Scarback’s flukes have changed over time. The new whale is a large gray whale with many barnacles on the rostrum. My feeling is that this whale is a older female. Females are about five feet longer than the males and after watching Scarback’s flukes whiten, I making an educational guess that this new whale’s flukes are turning whiter with age.

The new whale was extremely friendly, approaching my boat within feet as we remained motionless in the water. I am rapidly becoming known as the “Whale Whisperer.” When I speak to the whales, they come closer! On one trip, my passengers and I were clapping and encouraging the whale to come closer, and the whale came right up to the boat, lifted its head, and then went right under the boat. I hope this whale stays in the area.

Please help me name this new whale. I have pictures of the left and right dorsal hump on the web site along with the dorsal and ventral flukes. We need a name that relates to some pattern on the dorsal humps that also relates to the whiteness of the flukes. Looking at the humps myself, I see patterns of birds. To give me your ideas, go to and then click on naming new whale. The name will go in the new edition of my book and the winner of the name game will receive a free boat ride.

Join me out on the ocean for your chance to see the whales up close and personal!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Mystery Solved!

It has taken most of the summer, but I have finally figured out why there have been so few whales in the area. I was recently able to take a dive into the waters near Depoe Bay, and I was horrified by what I was not able to see. In the past, during each dive I have been able to see an abundance of mysid swarms, with about a body length in between each mysid. This is what is desirable for Gray Whales and will allow them to feed efficiently and sustain their 40-ton mass. However, the mysids in the swarms that I was able to see in my most recent dive were about ten body lengths apart, which is not close enough for good feeding. Most whales will pass these swarms by looking for more prosperous places to feed or “greener pastures.” One of our long time summer whales, Morisa, did just that on Monday as she swam by the previously abundant mysid patches. While I was diving I was able to observe that there was both the one-half inch as well as the one inch mysid species.

The whales that have been in the area continue to be a smaller whale named Deuce and Ice Cap which is a larger whale. Both whales have given us countless close encounters and it is wonderful to be able to see them this summer. On Tuesday evening, Ice Cap popped up very close to my boat. Kida, my dog and first mate, had a field day. Kida, as a frequent passenger of my trips, has developed a love/hate relationship with Ice Cap. You can see Kida gazing at Ice Cap in their most recent encounter in the picture above.

Don’t miss your chance to develop a love relationship with Ice Cap and Deuce as well as the other marine life we will see!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

A Very Rare Encounter!

In the last few days Ice Cap has been seen many times. There have been many more close encounters as Ice Cap continues to pop up within a few feet of my boat. We have also seen her feeding on the rocks a few times around Gull Rock, Flat Rock, Whale Cove, Government Point and Boiler Bay. In one very exciting and rare encounter we saw Ice Cap skim feeding along the foam line in front of the Whale Center. While she was doing this she was lifting her head above the water and we were able to see her beautiful blonde baleen as she ate. This is extremely rare to see and is something I see maybe once or twice a summer.

Ice Cap was also seen having sharking behavior. As I reviewed my photos of her I could see tooth rakes and a bite mark on her fin from orca attacks. These marks were not here last summer so this is an attack that has occurred within the last year. Also on her fin are marks that suggest that Ice Cap has gotten entangled in lines. These markings are not recent, from 2008, and are seen on the bottom of the tail fluke.

Don’t miss your chance to see Ice Cap, other Gray Whales, and spectacular marine life. Book your voyage today!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Ice Cap and Deuce

The last week on the ocean here on the Central Oregon Coast has been fantastic! There are two resident whales that have been in the area, Deuce and Ice Cap. Both whales have been feeding in the area, rather than just passing through on their search for food. This is an improvement as they have spent most of their time just passing through. We have had some spectacular encounters, especially with Ice Cap. On one trip Ice Cap popped up within two feet of my boat then proceeded to dive beneath the boat! I screamed! But it was incredible to see how comfortable Ice Cap was with us being in his home. On another trip he was spotted breaching and spy hopping. In the photo you can see Ice Cap as he shows the irregular white patch on the dorsal hump and the white circle beneath the knuckles. It has been a great week for the whales! I hope this pattern continues and we see these whales more as the season continues.

I know this sounds a little odd, but I was ecstatic to smell their stinky whale breath. The smelly breath is an indication that the whales are feeding well. A whale with good breath indicates that they are not getting enough of the right foods. Smelly is better when it comes to the whales! Join me in smelling the whale breath as I show you the spectacular marine life of the Central Oregon Coast! Call to book your trip today!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

A whale sighting!

The past week has been riddled with bad weather and poor ocean conditions. Because of this, it has been a few days since whales have been spotted in the area. Today, that changed! Right at the end of one trip we spotted Beacon, just outside the harbor. We were delighted as we spotted the first spout and the whale was soon to follow. We watched him for fifteen minutes as he dove and surfaced multiple times. As I went out on the next trip we were able to spot Beacon again as he traveled north towards Lincoln City at a speed of four miles per hour. Beacon was in the area last week, before the bad seas set in. I am hoping that he returns to feast in the area and we can spot him again soon!

Gray whales are extremely curious by nature, and Beacon displayed that today. He would surface close to the boat and once he even swam under us. Although they are curious, we must always leave the decision to approach the boat up to them. In the picture above you can see as Beacon surface to check us out on the boat. You can spot his eye if you follow the mouth line.

Yesterday, although there were no whales, we did come have a very rare encounter, we spotted an elephant seal! We are hoping that seas remain calm and the whales become frequent! Stayed tuned to hear more about whale encounters!