Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Gray Whale Migration Update

San Ignacio Lagoon in Baja California Sur
Everyday we watch gray whales swim south in the Pacific Ocean. They swim in groups, or pods--sometimes just two whales, sometimes five or more whales--all heading south for Mexico's warm water lagoons.  And lookouts in Mexico report that some whales have already arrived at San Ignacio Lagoon--or Laguna San Ignacio, as said in Spanish.

What a special place! San Ignacio Lagoon is so special that it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the last undeveloped gray whale birthing lagoon on the planet.

We hope to share with you the first gray whale birth of the season.  But that's not always easy.  Many of the pregnant whales swim to the very inner tip of this lagoon to give birth to their calves.  That means that there are not that many people to witness the first birth.

But what a birth it will be.  The newborn calf will measure almost 15 feet long--about the size of a pickup truck.  It is a curious and playful rascal.  

Here's a photo of a curious young calf that came up to our boat in San Ignacio Lagoon when we visited a few years ago.

Curious Gray Whale Calf. C. Coimbra Photo

Sunday, December 9, 2012

It Lives to Eat Other Starfish

If you were a five legged (or ray) starfish just hanging around the undersea rocks and you saw this 13-legged starfish coming your way, you better move fast.  Why? Because it's probably coming to get you.

With nicknames like the 13-Arm Hammerlock, or Cannibal Sun Star, this rare but aggressive  Dawson's Sun Star  (solaster dawsoni) even looks menacing, or maybe more like a creepy character from Pirates of the CaribbeanAnd it also dines on other starfishes.

The above photo was recently taken off the shores of Big Sur, along the central coast of California, during a Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary field project.

The Dawson's Sun Star has no natural enemies--except itself--henceforth, that cannibal nickname.

A Dawson's Sun Star devouring another starfish.

All photos from NOAA/Monterey Bay Marine Sanctuary


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Gray Whales Begin A Long Migration

Thousands of gray whales are heading south for winter. 

  In Fall, groups--or pods--of gray whales leave the cold seas of Alaska where they feed all summer long to spend their winters in the warm and clear waters of Mexico. This is called a migration.  It is one of the longest migration routes in nature.  

Two weeks ago we saw over 20 gray whales swim past us along the Central Coast of California.  A gray whale swims about 6 miles per hour.

Of all the whales in the ocean, gray whales are the oldest baleen whales in the world. (Baleen means these whales do not have sharp teeth like killer whales.)

By the end of December most of the gray whales will reach the Mexican waters of Baja California. 

It's not as easy to safely swimming this 5,000 mile route as it was before us humans came upon the scene.  Over 100 years ago humans hunted gray whales almost to the point where there were only a few left.  But gray whales are protected from big time hunting.  This helped gray whales rebuild their population.

Neptune 911 For Kids will update the gray whale migration later in December.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Entanglement. A Big Word.

Entanglement.  That’s a big word.  It’s also a big job to rescue animals from the sea that are entangled.

A whale entangled in fishing net
Entanglement means that a whale, a dolphin or any other kind of sea life has been caught and is tangled in old fishing lines, fish nets, ropes, and plastic trash floating in the oceans.  Most entangled mammals die if entangled because they need to surface for air.  If their fins, flippers or tails are wrapped up in old fish nets, the mammal weakens and finds it hard to swim, dive, swim, dive—how many mammals eat and breathe.

A sea lion with a plastic bag around its neck
Sometimes seals and dolphins swim through plastic that is used to wrap boxes. The plastic ring gets caught around their necks.  As the animal grows, the plastic ring digs deeper and deeper into their neck.  Many die from choking.

There are people around the world who work to save marine mammals that are entangled.

What can you do to help entangled marine mammals? 

  •        Learn more about marine mammals. Many Cub Scouts, Brownies, Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts clubs offer marine mammal badges.
  •       Recycle plastics.  Better yet, reduce plastic use.
  •       Say no to plastic bags. Bring your own reusable bag for shopping.
  •       Volunteer with your family, friends, club or church group to clean up creeks, rivers or beaches where you live.
  •        If you see a seal, dolphin or other marine life on the beach, ask an adult to call for help.  Be sure to not touch the animal.  Keep dogs away from the animal.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Halloween Fun From the Depths of the Sea

 Coffinfish!  Goblin Shark!  Vampire Squid!  All spooky fun e-cards you can send to your family and friends for FREE, compliments of the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

Now don't let those viper fish get ya! Happy Halloween!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

A Talking Beluga Whale

"Beluga wants a squid."
Whales don't talk--or do they?  Do they imitate human speech like parrots?

"Get out!" was what an ocean diver thought he heard a captive Beluga whale tell him.  The diver was in the tank that held this talkative whale.

Curious scientists started to record the sounds this male Beluga made.  Listen to this video and tell us what you think the whale is talking about. 

We think it sounds like the Muppets' Swedish Chef.

Beluga whales live in the Artic Ocean.  They like to swim around icebergs.  They are  social and they sing so much that Beluga whales are also called "canaries of the sea."  But talk? 

We know they won't ask for crackers, like a parrot.  But if they could, they would ask for octopus, squid, crabs, shrimp, clams, mussels, snails, sandworms,  salmon, capelin, cod, herring, smelt, flounder, sole, sculpin, lamprey, and lingcod.

A Beluga whale can nod and turn its head, unlike other whales. 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

5 Ways Kids Can Help Save the Seas

bags,bottles,cleanings,conservation,ecology,environmental conservation,environments,females,garbage bags,gatherings,girls,glasses,litters,people,plastics,recycling,recycling symbols,sorting,symbols,women
1. Be sure all plastic toys, bottles (and their tiny lids), and bags go home with you.  Fish and birds might eat that plastic if it goes into the sea.

2. Sea stars (starfish) are beautiful to look at in tide pools.   Leave them there, even if you really, really want to keep it for its beauty.  It will die.  Oh, and it will stink too.

animals,dogs,nature,people,owners,pets,walking the dog,leisure,leash3. If a sign reads “Dogs Must Be On Leash”  please do.  There may be tiny birds or other sea life that would be harmed by a dog splashing thru the waves or romping across the sand.

4. Even a tiny candy wrapper tossed on the beach will wind up in the ocean. Fish easily mistake shiny wrappers for food.   Wrappers can poison fish.

beach balls,children,household,leisure,people,playing,beaches,swimsuits,girls5. Stay on marked paths.  Stay off of beach areas when signs ask you to do so.  Someone is trying to save a delicate plant or stop unnatural erosion

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Sea Stars: Boys & Girls Who Cleaned Beaches

Girls and boys around the world are real Sea Stars.

Here's a few stories we found:

The Girl Scouts of Troop 499 wanted to clean up one of their favorite beaches. They found bottle caps, cigarette butts, straws, lollipop sticks, and even a dirty sock!  The girls had a great time doing a good deed!

 Brownie Troop 61243 from St. Paschal Baylon Church in Thousand Oaks spent the afternoon picking up trash at Leo Carrillo State Beach.. in an effort to keep the ocean safe and clean. Pictured are, top row, from left, Jessica Miller, Ava Miele, Emily McCormick, Ella Busch and Julia Tushla. Bottow row: Sophia Pantess, Olivia Elias, Rachel Wetzel and Ashley Edington.

Community service projects are a big part of scouting and recently Cub Scout Packs #741, #744 and #749 took part in a beach clean-up at Corona del Mar State Beach, also known as Big Corona. 
This event was a means for all the boys to get back together after taking the summer off and show the community how even a small group of individuals can make a difference.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

What If There's a Seal on the Beach?

If you visit the beach this summer, you might see a seal on the beach.  What do you do if you see one?

California Sea Lion
Here's a few tips for your safety and the safety of the seal on the beach.

1) All seals are wild animals.  They have very sharp teeth.  Keep far away from seal on the beach.

2) Try to look at the seal with binoculars.

3) Do not touch the seal. 
Monk Seal

4) Do not throw rocks at the seal. 

5) Keep your pet away from the seal.  Keep your dog from barking at the seal.

Steller Sea Lion
6) Don't chase the seal if it is moving around.

7) Be sure that you are not between the seal and the water.  The water is the seal's first escape route.  You could get hurt.

8) Do not try to feed the seal.  Actually, it's a good idea to not feed any wild animals like birds and squirrels.
Elephant Seals

9) All marine mammals in United States waters are protected by law. That's one reason why you should stay away from them.

Harbor Seal
10)  Some sea lions might be sick this summer.  If you see a seal that looks sick, contact an authority. In the United States you can call 1-800-853-1964 and report the seal. 

Friday, June 29, 2012

10-Year-Old Sings For The Ocean

Ta’Kaiya Blaney, a 10-year-old Canadian, visited San Francisco recently to receive an award.

Ta'Kaiya Blaney is the girl in the middle of other award winners.
A group of grown-ups who spotlight people from around the world for their good deeds that help the oceans, the Blue Frontier Campaign, picked Ta'Kaiya for the Christopher Benchley Youth Award, 2012.  (You might have heard of the movie and book Jaws--the story about a great white shark? Well, Christopher Benchley is the son of the book's author, Peter Benchley. Both father and son were devoted to helping other understand more about the ocean.)

Ta'Kaiya lives North Vancouver and is from the Sliammon First Nation. She writes and performs songs and also acts in movies.  She worries about oil spills because it could "devastate all marine and coastal like and habitat," near her home.  So she co-wrote and performed a song called "Shallow Waters."

Miss Blaney travels around Canada and the United States to tell people more about how the ocean is important to her.  This is one of the reasons she received this award in San Francisco.