With a little luck and these tips for whale watching, you may be able to spot some of the world's largest animals!
If you're visiting a rocky coastline on the Atlantic or Pacific oceans, you may be able to watch for migrating whales. Ask local inhabitants about whales in the area. (Rugged, rocky areas of the Pacific coast are especially good places to watch for rare Gray whales in late winter and early spring.)
What You'll Need:
- Warm clothing
Set out early in the morning on a windless, overcast day to a rocky headland that juts out into deep water. Bring binoculars, extra clothing, and snacks or a picnic lunch.
Watch for the blows of spouting whales. A whale blow looks like a puff of smoke at the water's surface.
See if you can identify the whale from its blow. You should also be able to see the whale's dark back.
Use your binoculars to look for tail flukes coming out of the water as the whale dives. (This behavior is called "sounding.") The whales will surface hundreds of yards or more from where you saw them dive.
If you're near a lagoon where whales gather, you may spot interesting whale behavior. Gray whales will "spyhop," lifting their snouts out of the water to the level of their eyes.
If you're lucky, you may see a whale breech -- that is, to leap nearly clear of the water and come down with a splash! No one really knows why whales do this. It may be a courtship ritual, a stress-reliever, a way to shake off parasites, or just plain fun!
Read on to learn about a science experiment you can do with a little water from the sea.