NOAA

Their fecundity might be due to a developing La Niña.

The waters off San Francisco must be echoing with a glorious chorale of weee-oooos and uuuuurrrghhs. Spotters have reported a record number of gray, humpback, and massive blue whales in the region, making whale-watching as easy as strolling onto the Golden Gate Bridge.

The blowholed behemoths normally show up off California later in the summer or fall, but this year they’ve been cruising around since May. Their premature arrival is either good or bad news, depending on which theory you believe. Curran White at the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy writes the draw might be plentiful food from a developing La Niña:

Dr. Sarah Allen, Ocean and Coastal Resources Program Lead for the Pacific West Region of the National Park Service, believes this gathering of whales is due to an abundance of prey (primarily anchovies). One theory suggests that nutrient-rich cold waters, stirred by La Nina conditions, are beckoning great numbers of fish.

“They [whales] wouldn’t be coming here unless there was a critical mass [of food],” Dr. Allen explains.

Then again, it might be because the whales were forced out of their southern homes:

“One of the reasons we have seen so many whales this early in the year, and so close to the coast, might be because of unfavorable conditions in their breeding grounds [off the coast of Central America and Mexico], which may have forced the animals to move north sooner than other years,” Dr. [Jaime] Jahncke says.

Locals wanting to get in on the action should head to the Golden Gate Bridge or coastal sites like Point Reyes, Pacifica Beach, Mori Point, and Lands End. And as always, if you stumble upon an unfortunate dead-whale beaching, report it to authorities and don’t desecrate it with your idiotic biker-gang graffiti.

About the Author

Most Popular

  1. Environment

    Why Flood Victims Blame Their City, Not the Climate

    Cities may struggle to gain support for climate action plans because they haven’t dealt with infrastructure issues that regularly afflict residents.

  2. a photo rendering of "Siemensstadt 2.0" in Berlin
    Life

    Berlin's Take on a High-Tech ‘Smart City’ Could Be Different

    The German company Siemens is launching an ambitious adaptive reuse project to revitalize its historic corporate campus, with a modern data-collecting twist.

  3. Groups of people look at their phones while sitting in Washington Square Park in Manhattan.
    Life

    How Socially Integrated Is Your City? Ask Twitter.

    Using geotagged tweets, researchers found four types of social connectedness in big U.S. cities, exemplified by New York, San Francisco, Detroit, and Miami.

  4. a photo of Fred and Donald Trump.
    Perspective

    Donald Trump Knows How to End Homelessness

    As a real-estate developer, he repeatedly argued that building adequate housing requires federal subsidies. As president, he’s forgotten that.

  5. a photo of a woman on a SkyTrain car its way to the airport in Vancouver, British Columbia.
    Transportation

    In the City That Ride-Hailing Forgot, Change Is Coming

    Fears of congestion and a powerful taxi lobby have long kept ride-hailing apps out of transit-friendly Vancouver, British Columbia. That’s about to change.  

×