safari watch

All About Grampus Griseus

Risso’s Dolphins (Grampus Griseus) are the only dolphins in the genus Grampus; their name was derived from Niçard naturalist, Antoine Risso.

They are a relatively large dolphin species, with adult lengths averaging at around 10′ and some individuals can grow over to be 13′. They don’t look like a “typical” dolphin, as they have a blunt shaped head and don’t have a long, protruding beak. 

Risso’s dolphins can be highly active at the surface exhibiting a range of behaviours like breaching and spyhopping. They usually do not bow ride, but they can be seen travelling in the wake of ships. 

Younger Risso’s are usually darker in color and older individuals appear more white. When they are born, infants are dark grey on their sides and back, with cream colored areas on their bellies and around the beaks. In older calves, the nonwhite areas darken to nearly black, and then lighten (except for the always dark dorsal fin). 

As they grow older, white linear scars begin to cover their bodies. These are derived from scratches from squid (their primary prey) and from other Risso’s dolphins during social interaction; these scars eventually cover the bulk of the body, hence why older individuals appear whiter. 

Most individuals have two to seven pairs of teeth, all in the lower jaw. Rather than teeth in the upper jaw, there are “sockets” that fit each tooth on the lower jaw. This is a common characteristic for cetacean that feed heavily on squid (i.e. Sperm Whales). 

They are found worldwide, in temperate and some tropical waters. They typically reside in deep water, fairly close to land. Here in Southern California, we see them once or twice every few months. They are considered to be one of the 5 most commonly seen local dolphin species (the others are Long and Short beaked Common Dolphin, Bottlenose Dolphin and Pacific Whitesided Dolphin).

Photos/Footage by Mark Tyson and Craig DeWitt.

Whale watching in Greece?

So, I’m definitely going to Greece this year, and if at all possible, I’d love to go on a whale/dolphin watching trip while I’m there. I haven’t decided yet which part of Greece I’m going to, so that’s not really a factor at this point. 
So far the only one I’ve been able to find is dolphin watching in Amvrakikos Bay on the west coast, between the city of Preveza and Actio, but I would like to find more options, especially any options around Crete or Athens (as those are the most likely destinations). 

If you know of anything that might be relevant, anywhere in Greece, I’d love if you’d share it with me! Thanks in advance! :) 


Blue Whales 2016 - An Appreciation Post

Blue sightings may have been unusually scarce in southern California this summer, but the encounters we did have were nothing short of spectacular!

These massive cetaceans are truly incredible. Seeing them in-person is an experience that one will never forget. 

Photos by Naturalists Mark Tyson and Craig DeWitt

themeparkzach  asked:

In your opinion do you think an original EPCOT center attraction concept like World of Motion would work today with modern audiences so used to franchise based rides?

Short answer: no

Long answer: I think there are a lot of factors behind why classic EPCOT Center rides were the way they were, which makes creating rides in that style geared toward franchises/IPs a little unwieldly.

First and foremost is money: if a concept isn’t a layover on an existing attraction or a concept that’s a proven hit elsewhere, I see Disney as being very hesitant into investing in it. There are one-off instances with The Seas with Nemo and Friends and arguably Kilimanjaro Safari, Rafiki’s Planet Watch, Frozen Ever After and the Circle of Life (the last two are stretches)

Second is that EPCOT Center styled rides were longer and slower because they were exposition-heavy. That’s because as “edutainment” rides, they had to introduce audiences to new and unfamiliar concepts, which does take time. IPs are already even vaguely familiar with most guests, who don’t need as much exposition. They also made the assumption that they were targeting an older demographic, considering EPCOT Center opened with the idea that 35-65 year olds would be the primary guest demographic, which leads into my next point.

After almost a year of working at Epcot, I can tell you that not too many guests vibed with the older EPCOT Center-styled offerings. While Epcot might’ve (and to some extent still is) marketed towards older crowds, the fact is that families who came to Disney for the Magic Kingdom are gonna take their kids to Epcot. So there’s always the risk as being seen as boring, since Magic Kingdom-styled dark rides tend to be quick and exciting

All About Minkes

Minke Whales are one of the smallest baleen whales (second to the Pygmy Right Whale). They are classified into two separate species by the hemisphere they reside in- Northern Minke Whale or Common Minke Whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) and Southern Minke Whale or Antarctic Minke Whale (Balaenoptera bonaerensis). The type we see in California is the Common or Northern Minke Whale.

Adult males reach an average length of 23′ and females 26′ (for baleen whales, females are often larger than males). Reported maximum lengths for Minkes are 32-35′! Both sexes typically weigh 4–5 tons at adult size.

Coloration of Minke whales is a mix of grays, whites and blacks; with darker shades on their back and lighter shades on their bellies. The most distinguishing mark for the species is the white band that spans horizontally across their black flippers.

The diet of a Minke whale includes crustaceans (krill), plankton (copepods), and small schooling fish (anchovies, herring, mackerel, etc.).  Minke whales typically live for 30–50 years; in some cases they may live for up to 60 years!

Larger whales usually surface gradually; surfacing with their head and blowholes first, then their back and then their dorsal fin and lastly, their flukes.  Since they are small, the blow of a Minke is usually not visible and their surfacing is very brief: their blowholes and dorsal fin break the surface close to the same time. 

In Southern California, Minkes are seen just about year-round. A few of them are shy; they surface a few times and quietly slip away. On the other hand, some of them are incredibly curious and active. Some of them have approached our vessels to take a look at the passengers on board

and some of them even breach!

Photos/footage by Naturalists Mark Tyson and Craig DeWitt.

Its seems the floodgates are opening up on the southbound Gray Whale migration. The past 7 days alone we are pushing 40 sightings- and it’s only January!

Many of these sightings have been fantastic encounters-  a few of these whales were rolling and playing right in the surfline (in about 10′ of water!), some were fabulous flukers and a even few breachers.

Photo taken aboard Manute'a (1-13-2017) by Naturalist Tracie Sugo

All About Lags

Pacific White-sided dolphins are known to us as “winter” dolphins, since we typically see them in the months of October-May. They are the only Southern California dolphin species known to be semi-migratory, traveling north to colder waters in the summer months.

Biologists often refers to them as “lags” which is short for their scientific name, lagenorhynchus obliquidens

(Note: “lags” can also refer to other cetaceans in under the genus of Lagenorhynchus, which contains 6 other species closely related to the Pacific White Sided Dolphin).

  • The Pacific white-sided dolphin has three, monochromatic colors. The chin, throat and belly are white.The beak and parts of the back and dorsal fin are a dark gray. Light gray patches are seen on the sides and a further light gray stripe runs from above the eye to below the dorsal fin (sometimes called “suspenders”), where it thickens along the tail stock:
  • They are considered to be an “average-sized” oceanic dolphin, with usual adult lengths being 7-8′. Females weigh over 300 lbs and males over 400 lbs with; lags are also considered to be dimorphic with adult males being larger in size to females and having a more dramatically curved and robust dorsal fin:
  • Pacific White-sided Dolphin are very friendly and playful. They readily approach boats to bow ride, take high leaps out of the water and sometimes are seen with other dolphins and whales; we’ve even witnessed them “playing” with Gray Whales by sliding across the whale’s belly while it’s upside down! We typically see them in pods between 10-100 individuals. 
  • Their range spans over the North Pacific; in cool, temperate waters off the Pacific coasts of North America and Asia. They feed on squid as well as a variety of fish, including hake, herring, cod, anchovies and salmon.

We are excited to see lags in the coming colder months!

Photos/Footage by Steve Plantz, Mark Tyson and Dale Frink

The 46th Annual Festival of Whales is almost here!

Join us aboard Manute’a for a unique festival whale watching experience. The southern California coast is rich with marine wildlife. The festival will bring events all over the harbor celebrating the animals we have here (mainly the whales, of course!) as well.