Calambokidis said researchers first began identifying the whales in the group from the natural markings in 1990 and 1991.
"Although they were clearly using this area before that," he said. "Most of the animals identified in our first two years are still returning today . . . 25 years later."
The Pacific Whale Watch Association said it's the 23rd year in a row that Little Patch has been seen here.
About 22,000 gray whales make an annual migration from California to Alaska and many of them visit Washington state waters to feed. There's a subgroup within the migration, about 200 of them, which makes up a Pacific Coast feeding group. They don't go to Alaska and rather stay in the Pacific Northwest, Calambokidis said.
Gray whales are baleen whales that can reach lengths of 50 feet and weigh about 40 tons. They can live into their seventies. Their migration from Baja California to Alaska is one of the longest migrations by any mammal, spanning between 5,000 and 6,800 miles.
The Everett dozen stop to feed here to fatten up on shrimp before making the last stretch to Alaska. They are also a key attraction for whale watching tours in the area.
More Northwest Headlines
Bon Jovi says he didn’t want to disappoint Vancouver fans 'I'm alive': People survey damage from continuing wildfires Monitor: Too many in jails awaiting competency services Emergency declaration sends dollars, help for fighting state’s wildfires Current Northwest wildfires map Police: “Highly unlikely” that missing Columbia River paddle boarder is alive 150,000 summer steelhead fingerlings die at Umpqua hatchery WSU trying to stop hacking attempt
Our new comment system is not supported in IE 7. Please upgrade your browser here.