Flex the magic western grey whale, on to California!

By Edward Johnson
This is our second post on this particular story, unannounced he slipped right by us here in Cannon Beach, and as a crow flies under our nose. It seems he is following a path along our outer continental shelf and heading at a rate much faster than estimated by OSU scientist Bruce Mate. Two weeks ago, he projected him to be off the mid-Oregon Coast by mid-February. Looks like he will be a good hunk of the distance to San Francisco by then. My wife accuses me of speculating too often but it is appearing more likely that he has done this before as his trajectory seems to have picked the shortest distances between two points. Equally important is the source of potential food, which based on my reading and understanding, would be at minimum during migration.  But why has he positioned himself on the line of one of the planets greatest breadbaskets the coastal outer upwelling zone. Granted this time of year generates lower nutrients, sunlight, phytoplankton and zooplankton availability.  Blooms may be sporadic but could provide sustenance (Gray Whales generally consume up to 0.4 % of their body weight per day about 12 lbs or 26 kg). Another source of nutrient pump potential is that of the recent migration of our coastal Gray Whales. Whale poop is big as it provides the same nutrient needs as deep ocean upwelling, which in turn keeps reasonable phytoplankton populations which result in higher invertebrate numbers desired by Flex and his folks.

Our hopes and passions rest with these critters and we have not yet fully debated some of the critical questions that surround this migration. They include: Double barred dart attachment methods and associated risks to the health and well being of marine mammals when extended tracking is required. Should worldwide restrictions be placed on mineral extraction when it will impact critical habitat of endangered species. Sonar is critical for naval operations as well as for the marine mammal food gathering, navigation, securing mates and maintaining families therefore the advancement of the formal leads to the demise of the latter. We need to join together to protection the life potential of Flex and his water brethren.  Ed


3 thoughts on “Flex the magic western grey whale, on to California!

  1. I think that tagging whales with the barbed darts or suction tags are wrong. I saw the picture of the orca’s dorsal fin that had been tagged and perforated. It looked very painful. I swear whales, dolphins, porpoises and all marine mammals need to be left alone. In addition to tagging, I think taking a biopsy while the whales, and orcas are sleeping is sad. When will man learn that if we want our ocean to live then we must let her children live and thrive without mans interferance. Just say no to, sonar, tagging whales and orcas with barbed darts, cetaceans, dolphins and orcas used for human entertainment. Now is the time to stand up for marine mammals. Where do I sign up?

    • Thank you Caroline for your great comment. In looking at our blog posts, it is most interesting that we picked up on the potential plight of the western Pacific Grey Whale before the story of Flex hit the news. As you have mentioned in your comment Flex optimizes many of the concerns we both have expressed with the exception of amusement park captivity. The public really loves whale centered stories and the internet has certainly moved the entire cause forward. Daughter Kristen and I have a daily conversation which encompasses the cetacean world in general. At present huge accolades should be given to: 1. Sea Shepherds-on the verge of stopping the Japanese Whaling industry. 2. The National Resource Defense Council-efforts to stop the Navy from using sonar in areas heavily utilized by marine mammals. 3.The Whale Museum-efforts to stop sonar testing and use of double-barbed dart hooks used in satellite tagging Southern Resident Pod Orca members.
      An important issue that needs all whale lovers immediate attention is the petition to list the Hawaiian subspecies of False Killer Whales to the Endangered Species List, which has a deadline for comment submission by Feb. 23rd. We will be posting that letter with more complete information on what anyone can do relative to the issue.
      Thanks again for your comment. For the greater good Ed

  2. Whale tagging especially with a barbed dart into the dorsal is flat out wrong. Whales, Orcas, Dolphins and Porpoises have a right to live in the wild without man’s invasive tactics. I think that Ken Balcomb suggests the best alternative which is passive monitoring. How can a tagged whale represent his conterparts when he or she is forced to deal with the pain caused by the darts. Just say no to whale barbed dart tagging.
    Bill Loop

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