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Return of the devilfish

A whale of a time

Flag Ship Cruise whale watching
Flag Ship Cruise whale watching

Once known as Devilfish by whalers due to their defending themselves and their young when attacked, the Eastern Pacific gray whales are migrating again off the San Diego coast.

In the Arctic feeding grounds, where they do most of their bulking up for the year, some 95 percent of their diet consists of very small shrimp and crustaceans.

When feeding on the bottom, the gray whale will take a deep breath, arch its body, throw its flukes high into the air, and dive deep. Once on the bottom, it will roll onto its side and “shovel” its head along the bottom, scooping up the top quarter-foot or so of life-filled mud and leaving a trench in the ocean floor. Then, by expanding and contracting its throat grooves and withdrawing its huge tongue, the whale sucks up the sediment as a person might a lumpy milkshake. As it rises from the bottom, the whale then pushes the mud through the baleen, which acts like a filter retaining only the amphipods, mollusks, tube worms, and other bottom invertebrates.

Once thought of as bottom-feeders only, which didn’t feed while migrating, gray whales have been recently observed foraging in kelp beds for shrimps and gulping up swarms of pelagic crabs and krill. The pelagic crab in the southern California waters might add a bit of excitement to the season, which runs late-December through early April.

Whale Watching Educational Tour

Flag Ship Cruises and Event’s whale-watch boat, the Marietta, is running daily tours in conjunction with the Birch Aquarium at Scripps. When: December 19–April 17, 9:30 a.m.–1:15 p.m. and 1:30–5 p.m. daily.

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Flag Ship Cruise whale watching
Flag Ship Cruise whale watching

Once known as Devilfish by whalers due to their defending themselves and their young when attacked, the Eastern Pacific gray whales are migrating again off the San Diego coast.

In the Arctic feeding grounds, where they do most of their bulking up for the year, some 95 percent of their diet consists of very small shrimp and crustaceans.

When feeding on the bottom, the gray whale will take a deep breath, arch its body, throw its flukes high into the air, and dive deep. Once on the bottom, it will roll onto its side and “shovel” its head along the bottom, scooping up the top quarter-foot or so of life-filled mud and leaving a trench in the ocean floor. Then, by expanding and contracting its throat grooves and withdrawing its huge tongue, the whale sucks up the sediment as a person might a lumpy milkshake. As it rises from the bottom, the whale then pushes the mud through the baleen, which acts like a filter retaining only the amphipods, mollusks, tube worms, and other bottom invertebrates.

Once thought of as bottom-feeders only, which didn’t feed while migrating, gray whales have been recently observed foraging in kelp beds for shrimps and gulping up swarms of pelagic crabs and krill. The pelagic crab in the southern California waters might add a bit of excitement to the season, which runs late-December through early April.

Whale Watching Educational Tour

Flag Ship Cruises and Event’s whale-watch boat, the Marietta, is running daily tours in conjunction with the Birch Aquarium at Scripps. When: December 19–April 17, 9:30 a.m.–1:15 p.m. and 1:30–5 p.m. daily.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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