News / Science & Technology

Whale Sightings Break Record in Southern California

Whale Sightings Break Record in Southern Californiai
X
January 15, 2014 9:52 PM
Tourists are flocking to the Southern California coast for whale watching tours. In the last month, a record number of whales have been sighted off the coast of Long Beach, just south of Los Angeles. Marine biologists are trying to find out why. Elizabeth Lee has this report from a whale watching boat.
Elizabeth Lee
Tourists are flocking to the southern California coast for whale-watching tours.  In the last month, a record number of the huge marine mammals have been seen off the coast of Long Beach, just south of Los Angeles.  Marine biologists are trying to figure out why. 

Near two of the busiest ports in the United States, ships are not the only giants moving through the ocean.  Captain Dan Salas of Harbor Breeze Cruises has been seeing sprays of water coming out of the ocean, followed by splashes from giant tails.

“In the last month or so we have seen so many whales that it’s been just absolutely incredible,” he said.

Salas runs whale watching cruises off the coast of Long Beach seven days a week throughout the year.  He said typically visitors had a 75 to 80 percent chance of seeing a whale.

“We have been 100 percent of the time seeing whales in the last month.  Not typical,” said Salas.

Marine biologist Kera Mathes is trying to solve this mystery.

“I’ve been out there for a few years and I’ve never had anything like that before, nor have I ever heard of anything like that before.  I think a traffic jam is a good way to talk about it,” she said.

Mathes said it’s been recording-breaking.  She’s seen more than double the number of grey whales last month than in previous Decembers.  In that same period, she’s also seen many different species in these waters. 

“We’ve also had orca sightings here, killer whales.  We’ve seen sperm whales.  We’ve had a humpback whale in the area; the second largest animal - the fin whale, as well - all within a very short period of time,” Mathes said.

Mathes said the reason for the increased sightings could be that more people are out here looking for whales.  The animals could also be swimming closer to shore.  Or an increased food supply in these waters could be attracting more whales.  Where is that food coming from? 

Captain Salas said one theory was that the water in this area was much cleaner these days, bringing in more marine life.

“The water was very polluted back 20 years ago.  We’d rarely see a dolphin or sea lion.  Now today, the waters here off of Los Angeles are so clean that we almost every day we’ll see dolphins and sea lions before we even leave the harbor,” he said.

Mathes said global climate change could be bringing more food to the area.  Climate change could also be causing the whales to shift their migration routes. 

Regardless of why the whales are congregating here, tourist Kathy Burton said she was just enjoying nature’s show.

“That was a surprise.  I thought that was going to be it, just the one whale, and then the dolphins at the beginning and thought we were going to be heading back,” she said.

But 11 kilometers off shore, the ship came near a pod of whales traveling together, ending another extraordinary trip for the tourists, the boat captain and the scientists on board.

You May Like

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land In French Port

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching 'Fortress Europe' More

Video Westgate Mall Attack Survivors Confront Painful Memories

On anniversary of terror attack, survivors discuss how they have coped with trauma they experienced that day More

New Hints That Dark Matter Exists

New evidence from International Space Station hints at existence of dark matter and dark energy More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calaisi
X
Lisa Bryant
September 19, 2014 5:04 PM
The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video CERN Accelerator Back in Business

The long upgrade of the Large Hadron Collider is over. The scientific instrument responsible for the discovery of the Higgs boson -- the so-called "God particle" -- is being brought up to speed in time for this month's 60th anniversary of the European Organization for Nuclear Research, known by its French acronym CERN. Physicists hope the accelerator will help them uncover more secrets about the origins of the universe. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Russian Economy Reeling After New Western Sanctions

A new wave of Western sanctions is hitting Russia’s economy hard. State-owned energy firms continue to bleed profits and Russia’s national currency plunged to a new low this week after the U.S. and the European Union announced new sanctions to punish Russia's aggressive stance in eastern Ukraine. But as Mil Arcega reports, the sanctions could also prove costly for European and American companies.
Video

Video Belgian Researchers Discover Way to Block Cancer Metastasis

Cancer remains one of the deadliest diseases, despite many new methods to combat it. Modern medicine has treatments to prevent the growth of primary tumor cells. But most cancer deaths are caused by metastasis, the stage when primary tumor cells change and move to other parts of the body. A team of Belgian scientists says it has found a way to prevent that process. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Mogadishu's Flood of Foreign Workers Leaves Somalis Out of Work

Unemployment and conflict has forced many young Somalians out of the country in search of a better life. But a newfound stability in the once-lawless nation has created hope — and jobs — which, some say, are too often being filled by foreigners. Abdulaziz Billow reports from Mogadishu.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid