Victoria Whale Watching Report: Humpback Whales
June 29, 2019
Today was a day that we would call humpback soup! Everywhere we looked there were humpback blows and whales surfacing. The body of water we were in for the duration of the afternoon is known as the Juan De Fuca Strait. This is about 95 miles long and starts at the open Pacific Ocean, and is about 18 miles wide from Vancouver Island to Washington State.
Throughout our trip, we got to spend time with 6 of the individuals that were in the area. These whales are known as MMZ0041, MMX0167 commonly known as Stitch, Seabird who doesn’t have a scientific number yet, MMY0144 commonly known as Trooper, MMX0012 commonly known as Tulip, and MMY0079 commonly known as Scratchy.
When Humpback whales are given ID numbers it is meant to reflect the amount of white or black on their flukes. If a whale has a mostly black (less than 20% white) fluke they are ID’d with an X, if it is 20-80% white then it is ID’d with a Y, and if it is over 80% white then it is ID’d with a Z.
Humpback whales have just recently started returning to our waters! Historically they lived here in quite high numbers but whaling around Vancouver Island was rampant and both killed off a large number of whales and scared the remaining ones off. From the 1990s to 2015 there were a very small amount of whales that spent their summers here.
2016 is the year that we know as the “Humpback Comeback” when over 100 new individuals showed up in the cold waters around the island. Since then their numbers have been steadily rising. This means that every year we see more and more new whales!
The whales and the sunshine combined for a great day on the water!
It was a beautiful Saturday evening in Victoria! Tonight we headed South through the Juan De Fuca Strait towards Washington.
We were almost in Port Angeles when we arrived with Humpback Whales. There were too many to count, but more than 20 were in the area with us! We were able to identify two of them as “Corporal” (BCX1238) and “Hemlock” (MMY0080). The underside of a Humpback’s fluke is what we use to identify them because each one is entirely unique!
Several of these whales came right up to our boat, giving us amazing views of these gentle giants. We were even able to see one of them feeding up by the surface of the water, showing us its mouth several times. A couple of times, one of them also raised its pectoral fin up out of the water. These pectoral fins are 1/3 of their body size. Throughout our time with all of these amazing animals, we were also able to see their flukes frequently.
Anywhere we looked around our boat we could see Humpback blows. What an incredible night!
After our time with these whales, we headed back to the Cruise Ship with beautiful sunset scenery.