Victoria Whale Watching Report: Harbour Porpoises, Grey Whale, Humpback Whale
May 21, 2019
Spring has been wonderful this season with calm seas and mostly sunny days. We whisked our guests onto the Juan de Fuca Strait, headed towards Whidbey Island, Washington.
On our way, we stopped to see dozens and dozens of Harbour Porpoises!
These little cetaceans only grow to be a maximum of 1.8m long. They live in small groups but we can see over a hundred spread out when there’s abundant small fish for them porpoises to feed on. We even caught a few great shots of their small triangle-shaped dorsal fins that you can see on our Flicker page.
Once we made it to the shores of Whidbey Island, we soon spotted the misty puff of air escaping a Grey Whale!
The area is known to be very shallow, the perfect place for a Grey Whale to forage for mysids, tube worms and other small zooplankton.
Grey Whales have been very prevalent in the area this season and we have been excited to get to teach our guests about this species that was almost hunted to the brink of extinction. We were once left with under 1000 Grey Whales worldwide, a devastatingly low number.
Now the Pacific Ocean is home to over 20,000!
As we headed back to Victoria, we did get to see a humpback whale! He would come up for several breaths and then dive for about 10 minutes. We had time to see a few sequences of breaths before cruising back to the Harbour.
It was a great morning to see two of the largest species of whales that can use our area!
Today’s guests boarded the Orca Spirit and we set course to the east in hopes of relocating the humpback we had seen at the end of our tour this morning. We needed to head over to Haro Strait but we searched for other signs of whales on our journey.
With the help of our spotting network, we saw the blows eject into the air!
We found him!
Humpback whales are identified by the underside of their fluke or tail. We look for white pigmentation, the shape of the edges, and for any unique scars or scratches. After a perfect fluke shot, we were able to determine it was Split Fin! Split Fin was born in 2006 and has been returning to our area every year ever since.
Once we got a side profile of this humpback, we were able to see the two splits in his dorsal hump and thus what gave him his name. We are confident Split Fin is a male because if it was a female, we would expect to see a calf alongside it by now.
This is the first sighting we have had of this particular humpback this season…
Welcome back Split Fin!
During the tour, we were able to go over to Whale Rock where there are several Steller Sea Lions hauled out on the rocks. These giants are a sight to see as they reach 2500 pounds! They were accompanied by a handsome Bald Eagle and a few Harbour Seals.
With cold, nutrient-rich waters, the Salish Sea provides a bounty of food for so many amazing species that we are so fortunate to share with the world!