Written by: Jake, Lead Naturalist
Every whale watcher looks forward to starting the season and getting back out on the water. We look forward to meeting our guests as they come aboard, and we always look forward to the wildlife we get to see everyday. One thing we especially look forward to is the return of our Humpback population to the Salish Sea.
Each winter, (around October and November) our humpbacks take off down south to the warmer waters of Mexico, Hawaii and Costa Rica. This is when the fun begins. The males will start jumping and singing to attract the females for mating, and any females who are carrying a child are ready to give birth and bring new life to our waters.
Starting in April and May, they’ll start making the 40 day journey back to the North, and this is where the excitement happens for us Whale Watchers. We all anticipate the arrival of these animals, as in the first month of the season we don’t typically see many of them. As we get further into May, the Naturalists at Orca Spirit have been delighted to see individuals such as Malachite, Zephyr, and Split Fluke make their appearances in the Haro Strait.
Split Fluke, Photo taken by: Jake Hawley
Zephyr, Photo taken by: Jake Hawley
We have to consider ourselves lucky to see these animals in the Salish Sea at all. During the whaling era, Humpbacks were hunted to near extinction due to their abundance, and we didn’t see them in the Salish Sea at all for nearly 100 years. In 1996, a Humpback named Big Mama returned to the area, and over the years brought more and more to our waters. However, it wasn’t until 2016 that we saw the Great Humpback Comeback, and we had around 100 individuals come to the Salish Sea, consistently returning to the area each year after that.
It’s an absolutely incredible thing to see a Humpback Whale in person, especially considering what they’ve been through over the last few centuries. We’re looking forward to telling you more about them on our tours!