THAR SHE BLOWS!

November 19, 2000 11:00 pm

By Jennifer Grimes

Triplicate staff writer

Plumes of whale spout spray are shooting up all along Crescent Citys coast.

What kind of whales?

Most likely grays, said Biologist Grant Eberle of the Humboldt State University Marine Research Center.

But, its possible theyre humpbacks, he added.

Eberle said sperm whales and blue whales occupy these waters in addition, but without a closeup view, it is uncertain which species is passing by now.

During Fridays sunny, calm weather, multitudes of travelers and locals crowded look-out points along Pebble Beach Drive and Whaler Island in the Harbor.

I carry two pair of binoculars all the time, said Flora Mann who was out shopping with her friend Dixie David.

Its such a beautiful day, we decided to come to the beach and take a look, David said.

A mother whale and her calf were sighted among the rocks a couple hundred yards out from Brother Jonathan Point early yesterday.

Gray whales are known to feed along the rocky headlands on little mycids, swimming shrimp-like animals, according to an informational brochure written by the Oregon State Parks Department.

This group of whales currently passing by Crescent Citys coast, is considered early for their yearly migration south to Baja.

Biologists and experienced whale watchers agree the migration from Alaska doesnt usually start until early December.

In fact, the volunteer group Whale Watching Spoken Here, which set up educational watch stations along Oregons coast, doesnt mobilize until Dec. 26.

Local whale enthusiasts Ray and Karen Seymore have been tracking how the grays behave once they arrive here.

Just by Whalers Point, they go in and follow along the bay to Enderts Beach, he said.

This is our fetish, to keep tabs on these sorts of things.

It takes three weeks for the Grays and the Humpbacks to make their journey from Alaska to Baja, according to marine biologists. They travel up to 5 mph.

Information about the migration is available at the Redwood National Park office in Crescent City.

WWSH will have a manned station at Crescent Beach Overlook between Dec. 26 and Jan. 2. Last year, Barbara Baker helped 57 people spot whales there.

Gray whales can reach 45 feet in length and can weigh 35 tons. As big as they are, they do have predators. Killer whales and sharks, which are common to the northern California coast, target females and their calves during their return trip to Alaska in the spring.