Sunday, January 18, 2009

Gray Whales in the Santa Barbara Channel

Last Wednesday, I decided to go out and see what kind of photos I can capture of these amazing animals. I still haven't gotten what I need for my project, so another trip out will be necessary next month sometime.

Every year starting around December, the Gray Whales migrate through the Santa Barbara Channel on their way down to Baja. They travel to the warm lagoons to have their calves where they feel protected. Traveling down to Baja to complete a 10,000 mile journey one way, they hug the coastlines of the Channel Islands.

There was a juvenile traveling with this group. Probably born last year, so it is learning the route.

Anacapa Island is in the background:

Once they are ready, then they will return to Canada and Alaska migrating through the Santa Barbara Channel again, but hugging the California Coastline to help keep their calves protected from the predators, like the Orcas. It is believed that the Gray Whales make the longest yearly migration of any mammel.

The Gray Whales can get to be 52 feet long, 36 tons, and an age of 50-60 years old.

It was a beautiful day on the water. So calm, clear and lots of feeding going on. Right outside of the harbor, we were approached by some Bottlenose Dolphins. Not common for them to be so close to the harbor and or shoreline, so that was a nice treat.

The Bottlenose Dolphins can reach a length of 6.6 to 13 feet and weigh between 330 -1400 lbs. The males are a bit larger than the females and their size depends a lot on their habitats. Dolphins in warmer, shallower waters tend to be smaller than those in the cooler pelagic waters.

There are also two types of Bottlenose Dolphins:

1. the Common Bottlenose Dolphins found in most tropical to temperate oceans; colour is grey, with the shade of grey varying among populations; can be bluish-grey, brownish-grey, or even nearly black; often darker on the back from the rostrum to behind the dorsal fin.

2. The Indo-Pacific Bottlenose Dolphin living in the waters around India, northern Australia, South China, the Red Sea, and the eastern coast of Africa; back is dark-grey and belly is lighter grey or nearly white with grey spots.

In the channel, there were a TON of Pelicans, Sea Gulls and Common Dolphins feeding. It seem like every direction you look, you could see the splashes from these guys. Pelicans can make a good size splash in the water when diving. It's amazing.

Hope you all have a great week!! Those of you in my area of the world, try to not blow away...

Till next time.....


  1. Michele,

    Great shots! I really enjoy your blog. It is a plesant change from the normal nature blogs. Also thanks for taking the time to educate me about the wildlife you capture, I really enjoy learing about them.


  2. Michele...

    Very nice images...gosh those are large animals! Thanks for posting them...


  3. Wonderful photos and information. I've actually been to Anacapa Island, though we weren't able to board because of the high winds and current. Beautiful area.

  4. Very cool stuff within your blog!
    Hopefully one day I will be able to visit the Baja area, ..... hopefully.
    Have been wanting to visit that area for years, and I am always being pulled elsewhere instead.

  5. How very, VERY cool!!! What an awesome thing to witness! I've never in my life seen live dolphins or whales ~ not even in captivity! Thanks so much for the lesson and photos!

  6. Hi Michele, Hope you are doing well and get your pc fixed soon. I really miss those great photo's from CA.


  7. Thank you all for your kind comments... :):)

  8. What a wonderful sight! Beautiful photos.

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  10. Your photos are terrific. I respect and admire the work you are doing on behalf of whales and dolphins. In a similar vein, I submit that public interest and concern for these magnificent beings can be heightened even more by blending scientific fact with speculative fiction, thereby taking the public beneath the waves into a world where they could not otherwise venture. Please visit my website or read my blog