Meet the Leader of the Pod

By Naturalist Alexx Robles

Alexx Robles attended the University of California, Los Angeles, and majored in Environmental Studies with a minor in Geology. When not whale watching or teaching classes at Birch Aquarium, she likes to spend her time surfing, practicing yoga, or hiking.

With a month left in whale watching season it is safe to say that we have had a wonderful year full of several spectacular sightings! We have seen more than 750 gray whales, 8900 common dolphins and 1330 Pacific white-sided dolphins. We have also seen some less-common whales in the water. Many guests have gotten the chance to witness humpback whales,  several of them breaching! A few lucky whale watchers were even able to spot pilot whales and, earlier this week, our guests spotted the first fin whale of the season.

A fin whale surfaces close to the boat.

A fin whale surfaces close to the boat.

All these incredible sights were only possible due to the effort and dedication put forth by education specialist Audrey Evans, who coordinates the whale watching program for the aquarium. Evans has been working at Birch Aquarium for the past seven years.

It takes a great deal of planning and coordinating in order to make each whale-watching season a success. This includes working with the aquarium’s volunteer coordinator to recruit volunteers, coordinating the naturalist schedule, supporting the partnership with Flagship Cruises & Events, and recruiting speakers for training.

Audrey Whale Watching

Audrey Evans, education specialist, in charge of coordinating whale season

Even though all the coordination is a lot of work, it’s also very rewarding. “Seeing everything come together with staff and volunteers and getting to be a part of it is my favorite part,” said Evans. She enjoys her work behind the scenes, but she also enjoys getting to go on the Marietta and see all the different types of whale behavior. When asked to describe one of her favorite days on the boat, Evans recalls a very calm, glassy day at sea. Looking out over the ocean, she could see over 1,000 common dolphins who were being extra acrobatic, flying into the air, feeding, and slapping. The sight of such a large pod exhibiting such interesting behavior was unforgettable for the science educator.

If you haven’t gotten a chance to see some of this planning in action or the amazing whales make sure to get on the boat before the season ends! http://www.aquarium.ucsd.edu/Education/Public_Programs/Outdoor_Adventures/Whale_Watching/

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Scripps Institution of Oceanography UC San Diego