Every year around Valentine’s Day, our Santa Monica Pier Aquarium celebrates its love for whales – just in time to mark the annual migration of the Pacific gray whale.
Pacific gray whales undergo a gargantuan 10,000-mile roundtrip journey between the Arctic and Mexico each year. These gentle giants breed and give birth in the warm Baja waters in late fall/early winter before heading back north with their calves around February. The migration takes the whales through the Santa Monica Bay – sometimes close enough to be spotted from the West end of the Pier.
Make sure to stop by for Whale of a Weekend at the Aquarium (Feb. 11 and 12, from 12:30 – 5 pm). From baleen to blubber, you’ll leave with a ton of knowledge. Be sure to take a peek through our binoculars from the observation deck; you might just spy a whale!
Our Top Ten Facts About Whales
- Whales only breathe through their blowholes – they can’t breathe through their mouths.
- There are two categories of cetaceans (whales): those with teeth and those without.
- Toothless whales, called baleen whales, include the Pacific gray whale, blue, humpback, fin, and right whales.
- Toothed whales include orcas, belugas, dolphins, narwhals, porpoises and sperm whales.
- Nearly 90% of all cetaceans are toothed whales.
- Baleen whales are the largest mammals on earth but they eat some of the smallest creatures in the ocean: tiny zooplankton.
- Baleen whales have two spout openings (like having two nostril openings).
- Toothed whales only have one spout opening.
- Narwhals actually only have two teeth. One of those teeth is the large spiral shaped ivory tusk that develops through their upper lip.
- When baleen whales blow air out of their spout, it creates a spray that sometimes comes out heart-shaped.
Don’t miss out on Whale of a Weekend for an ocean’s worth of fun, and don’t forget to celebrate World Whale Day on February 18!