Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Whales Upstream

Here's a Gray Whale and her calf, in the lower Klamath River, roughly 3 miles upstream of the mouth of the river. They have been in the river for over a week, and may stay much longer.

In 1989, a mother and calf came in and spent most of the summer in the Lower Klamath Estuary (closer to the mouth). The whale was in fresh water for the summer months, and was observed going in and out until March of 1990. They were observed feeding on the tube-dwelling amphipod, Corophium spinicorne (which live on the surface of the gravel riverbed).

It turns out these whales were the first gray whales ever documented to over-summer in California, rather than making the long trip to the Bering Sea in Alaska.

Yurok Elder fishermen, Merk Oliver and Corky Sims remember the whale from 1989, and they named the calf "Bubbles". Could it be that the mother of the 2011 calf is Bubbles from 1989?


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