Jean-Michel Cousteau: Ocean Adventures

Voyage to Kure
Sharks at Risk
expedition goals
America's Underwater Treasures
Return to the Amazon
Sea Ghosts: Belugas
Call of the Killer Whale


The Gray Whale Obstacle Course

Mission and Goals

- To trace the migration of gray whales from their wintering grounds in the lagoons off Baja California, Mexico, to their northern summer feeding grounds in the Alaskan Bering Sea. Using state-of-the art tagging and tracking systems, whales - including a mother and calf pair - will be followed. The team will also investigate key points along the migration route, both observing whales directly and learning from experts.

- To film and study the behavior of gray whales, especially in response to human influences along the whales' migration route. To whales, the rapid increase in human activity means noise, collisions, lost fishing gear and pollution. Along the migration route, gray whales must contend with more noise, generated by boat traffic, industry and military sonar experiments conducted by the U.S. Navy. Are these factors causing the gray whales to move farther offshore on their traditional migratory route?

Celine and Jean-Michel Cousteau scan the horizon for gray whales
Click to enlarge

- To observe the role of gray whales in the ocean's food web, both as consumers and as prey. Orcas, also known as killer whales, feed on baby gray whales, especially off the coast of Monterey, California, as they migrate north. In the colder, northern waters of Oregon and Washington and in the Bering and Chukchi seas in Alaska, gray whales' food sources will be investigated with surprising results.

- To illustrate the ongoing scientific research in order to better understand the population dynamics of gray whales. At various points along the U.S. coast, researchers and volunteers will be counting them closely, an annual event to monitor the population numbers and document recovery or decline.