Videos and images show gray whales breaching kayakers off the coast of California on their annual southerly migration.
The images were shared by the Everyday California whale watching company. In one video, a whale appears a few feet from a kayaker, while an image shows a whale right next to tourists on the trip.
Everyday California kicked off its kayak tour from La Jolla, San Diego County. The trip was organized to coincide with the winter migration of gray whales. Each year, hundreds of gray whales leave their feeding grounds off the coast of Alaska south to Baja California.
The 12,000 mile round trip is one of the longest annual migrations of any mammal on Earth.
These whales, which can grow up to 49 feet tall and weigh around 90,000 pounds, are naturally curious as a species and therefore are at the center of ecotourism and whale watching along the west coast of the States. -United.
Gray whales begin their migration in the fall and head to Baja California for the winter months where they give birth between early January and mid-February.
In late February, the whales began to move north, moving up the west coast until they reached Alaska in May.
There are two main populations of gray whales: the Northeast Pacific stock, which is found on the west coast of the United States, and the Northwest Pacific stock, which lives along the coast of East Asia. .
The species was aggressively hunted during industrial whaling in the 20th century. In the mid-1980s, when the species was close to extinction, the International Whaling Commission ended commercial whaling and the numbers of gray whales rebounded.
Gray whales become sexually mature between the ages of 6 and 12. It is a long-lived species, and although the upper age limit is not known, a female has been estimated to be between 75 and 80 years after her death.
One of the biggest threats facing gray whales is collisions with ships, with the west coast having one of the heaviest maritime traffics in the world. They are also at risk of becoming entangled in fishing gear.
In 2019, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) launched an investigation following an “unusual mortality event” where more than 100 gray whales stranded along the west coast. So far in 2021, 55 gray whales have been found dead along the coast, which is slightly less than in 2020, when there had been a total of 79 gray whale strandings.