Written by: Megan, Naturalist
This week has been an absolutely amazing one. I cannot get over how different the season is now compared to earlier. The last few weeks we’ve seen a massive change in the number of humpbacks here in the Salish sea as well as a change in their behaviour!
Figure 1. A Pectoral flipper ready to Slap!
Breaching pectoral slapping, tail slapping, and my favourite lunge feeding are all behaviours I have seen in the last few days and it has been absolutely mind blowing!
Figure 2. A Humpback Breach!
As well as an increase in humpbacks there has also been an increase in plankton in the water. It’s really cool to point this out to my guests and explain how those tiny little flecks in the water feed these massive 45-50ft humpback whales. I expect the bloom in plankton is also why we’re seeing such an increase in behaviour.
Figure 3. Nice of them to jump in front of the skyline!
Our humpbacks get to spend their winters down in Hawaii and Mexico (jealous much) but they also don’t eat the entire time they are down there. That’s 6 months without food.
So, for the first few weeks that they appeared here in the Salish sea they were absolutely starving and showed very little behaviour other than surfacing and diving.
Now there’s an increase in plankton meaning there is most likely an increase in Krill. This abundance of food means our humpbacks are starting to get their energy back and that’s what’s leading to this change in behaviour. It’s absolutely astonishing to see.
Figure 4. Humpback “Valiant” flick feeding
Also, a couple of days ago, some very lucky passengers got to see one of my favourite sights, 3 humpback whales feeding together. Humpbacks are mostly solitary but sometimes they come together to feed. They work together to corral the food into a big ball of krill. Then they all lunge to the surface at the same time which is a truly amazing sight and definitely not something we see every tour. Every single person on the boat from or passengers to the captains who have worked in the Salish sea 10+ years absolutely lost their minds. It was a true privilege.
Figure 5. Two Humpbacks lunge feeding at the same time, a real treat!
As we continue into the season there’s a good chance, we will see these behaviours again!
Book your tour for a chance to see these humpbacks putting on the greatest show of the year!!