2013 Surveys Provide New Insights into Gray Whales’ Migrations

The Laguna San Ignacio Ecosystem Science Program’s 2013 gray whale research team documented the third year of  record numbers of  gray whales and female-calf whale pairs utilizing Laguna San Ignacio. These abundance surveys were compared with similar survey counts from Laguna Ojo de Liebre to the north, and revealed similar trends in the timing and duration of stay between both lagoons. However, unlike Laguna San Ignacio, no increase in the number of female-calf pairs at the end of the winter season was documented in Ojo de Liebre as has been seen in Laguna Ojo de Liebre. Photographic identification methods confirmed movements of female-calf pairs of gray whales moving between Laguna San Ignacio and Bahia Magdalena to the south. Additional comparison of photographs of gray whales obtained by United States and Russian researchers from Sakhalin Island and the Kamchatka Peninsula with photographs obtained in the breeding lagoons of Baja California confirmed that some gray whales, including breeding females, migrate in winter from the Western gray whales’ range along the Western Pacific coast of Russia to the west coast of North America and the breeding lagoons of Baja California, Mexico.

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