The Aquarium of the Pacific and Harbor Breeze Cruises last week provided local media with an opportunity to view the largest animals on the planet, which happened to be in the waters off Long Beach expelling water from their blowholes.
The focus of the photo opp, blue whales, are an endangered species, and experts from the Aquarium’s blue whale research project provided updates about the population found off the coast of Southern California. Media embarked aboard a specialized whale-watching, high-speed catamaran to view and learn about the creatures. In the last month, there have been over 200 sightings of blue whales.
The Aquarium of the Pacific is partnered with Harbor Breeze Cruises in helping Cascadia Research Collective document their behavioral data. “We are out there every single day,” Kera Mathes, a marine biologist. “We can take behavioral data about what the whales are doing, where they are spending their time, what’s going on in the shipping lanes, that sort of thing.”
The fin whale, the second largest whale, is also commonly found in the area during this time of the year. According to Mathes, the blue whales came late this year. They are usually expected earlier in the summer.
During the excursion, the media were informed about the common dangers of the blue whale. Ship strike is the primary one– along with pollution. “There have been many animals that have accidentally eaten plastics,” Mathes said. Blue whales are also liable to entangle themselves in nets and fishing gear.
The media event coincided with the Aquarium’s announcement that its award-winning Whales: Voices in the Sea multimedia exhibit is now available at seven institutions around the nation, including most recently being added to the New England Aquarium and Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium. The Aquarium of the Pacific is also debuting new components to the exhibit, which highlight the endangered North Atlantic right whale and humpback whale and include rare footage and interviews with leading scientists. As guests explore this exhibit, they will learn about the environmental threats facing blue, North Atlantic right, gray, humpback, sperm, and other whales.