Written by: Chloe, Onboard Naturalist
Week of July 10th.
The month of July has offered some amazing wildlife sightings and this week was no exception! We had the opportunity to see many different species of wildlife, from the sea otter Ollie to the Bigg’s Killer Whales in the area. Specifically, the Humpback Whales of the Salish Sea were putting on quite the show for us.
The week started off strong with some interesting whale behaviours. Early in the week, there were a few humpbacks showing off their lunge feeding. This is always spectacular to watch because we are often able to see the pectoral fins coming out of the water and their baleen. Lunge feeding is done to capture lots of food at once. The humpbacks do this by lunging quickly while on their side with their mouths open.
When doing this, they intake a lot of water. Their baleen allows them to hold on to the yummy food like fish and krill, while they get rid of all the unwanted water. Lunge feeding is an efficient way for these whales to eat enough to maintain their massive body size.
This week we were also able to see some humpback friendships! These whales typically travel alone with the exception of a mother and her calf, so it can be really special to see a group of adults hanging out together. When we see this, it’s because humpback whales can actually form friendships. During the summer when they come to the Salish Sea to feed, they can be quite social in larger groups. Earlier in the week we had the chance to see this when there were about 10 humpbacks in one area!
Finally, we ended the week strong with some even more spectacular humpback sightings. One day in particular, the guests and crew were lucky enough to see a very playful whale breach 22 times! Whales can breach for a few different reasons. This can be a way of communicating with others by making a loud noise at the surface but can also be a way to express when they’re feeling playful. Humpback whales also carry lots of parasites like barnacles and sea lice, so breaching could be a way of getting rid of these pests by slamming their bodies down on the water.
Needless to say, this week was incredible all-around for sightings, and we’re excited to see what’s in store for the rest of the summer!