Victoria Whale Watching Report: Humpback: Elf MMX0026
October 1, 2019
This afternoon we followed a call on the radio southwest of Victoria. It did not take long before we were able to see misty exhales from humpbacks. Once all in view, we realized that there were quite a few all feeding in the same area. In the beginning, we were able to watch two humpbacks feeding close together. One of which was Elf MMX0026, we can tell the difference by looking at the bottom of their flukes. Each has different colorings and patterns, ranging from all black to all white. Some have notable scaring from fishing gear or orca teeth.
As the whaling industry fades into history, the number of humpbacks has been on a steady incline. They are here spending half of the year to feed, regaining roughly 7-17 tons back in body weight. When fully grown, a humpback can be up to 40 tons and 53 feet long. This maximum weight and length pertain to the females as they are the larger of the two. Females are bigger than males as they have to excrete so much more energy; having a two-ton calf and feeding the calf roughly 500 liters of milk per day. The calves will gain an estimate of 100 pounds a day and spend only one year with their mothers.
They have to absorb all there is to know about being a humpback in this year before they separate once they return to Mexico, Costa Rica, or Hawaii. Humpback whales will remain around southern Vancouver Island until about November. Years ago it was only common to see these animals in September/October. Now we can see them 2-3 times a week, if not more!
We were able to spend some time with the feeding humpbacks for a while. After getting some great views, we headed towards Race Rocks ecological reserve. Here we were able to observe seals, sea lions, and many birds. Race Rocks has strong currents that create nutrient upwellings, providing food for both intertidal and tidal creatures. There is never a dull moment at Race Rocks. We were able to get some great views of the animals and scenery here before heading home to Victoria.