May 21, 2017 – Humpback Whales, Seals & Sea Lions
May 21, 2017
It was a lovely morning as we set course on the Salish Sea, with many different boats on the water, all looking for tell tale signs of whales! Captains, crew and passengers scanned the surface of the water for misty blows, splashing or dark, shiny backs poking up above the water. We traveled southeast towards San Juan Island when we got a radio call that someone found a cetacean! We pulled an ocean U-Ball and headed towards the report.
We soon saw the blow and dark body of a humpback whale! It appeared to be a young calf due to it’s small size and bumpy knuckles visible on it’s back. We looked and looked for a mother whale, but never seen or heard her. This little one’s mother may have been farther off where we could not see her, or the calf may have been on it’s own because something happened to it’s mom. We hope that mom is just very lack on how close she is from her baby!
Our calf became frisky towards the end of our visit, waving it’s tail high in the air and slapping the surface of the sea. No matter what species, a playful baby is always cute! There is never enough time to be on the water, but we eventually had to head home. With the sun shining and the bliss of having just seen the one of the most beautiful creatures in the world, we finished our trip with huge smiles on our faces!
Sunshine filled the sky, making for a perfect Sunday afternoon to go whale watching! Our zodiac driver, Matt, reported that he found 2 humpbacks southwest of Victoria, so we headed in that direction. We soon discovered the mother and calf Matt had told us about. Nothing says spring like a mama and her baby! Humpbacks give birth over winter, most often in January when they are in the warm waters of Mexico or Hawaii. They then embark on one of the longest journeys in the animal kingdom, bringing their newly born calves to the waters of the North Pacific.
At this time of year we have “skinny” humpbacks, as they have been fasting all winter. The cold waters of the North Pacific provide a bounty of herring, sardines, sandlance, and zooplankton. Over the summer, each humpback will gain approximately 17 tons! This is just enough fat stores to get them threw next winter.
After a wonderful visit with the humpbacks, we made way to Race Rocks Lighthouse, where the California and Stellar Sea Lions were relaxing on the islets. A Bald Eagle stood atop one of the islands, looking like King of the Sea! Dozens of Harbour Seals were also enjoying the sun, many of the females plump from pregnancy. To top it off, the snow-capped peaks of the Olympic Mountains made for the perfect back-drop to the black and white tower of the historic lighthouse.