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Victoria Whale Watching Report: Humpbacks Galore including MMY0102, Split Fluke, Lyra and Scuttle!

July 15, 2020

July 15th, 2020 – 10am Covered Vessel Tour

It was another beautiful summer day on the Juan de Fuca Strait as we journeyed west in search of marine wildlife. We traveled near the shoreline of Vancouver Island until we arrived just south of Becher Bay. Another boat had seen a spout from a humpback whale in that area, so we worked alongside another vessel to locate the animal. We looked in every direction for a long time, but no whale resurfaced. We decided to move further south and west, and it is a good thing we did because whales were present!

At first, we saw two humpbacks, one-off our port side and another further off to our stern.  Our naturalists were able to get some pictures of the tail of the closer whale and identified it as MMY0102, which is a scientific name used to study and track this humpback. We then spotted two different mom and calf pairs, one family was close to a third humpback. All in all, we ended up seeing at least 8 different humpbacks!

All humpbacks can be identified as individuals by the unique pigmentation, scratches, and scars on their tail flukes. We can sometimes use their dorsal humps to identify them as well. Among the 8 humpbacks we seen were Lyra and Split Fluke. Split Fluke has a very distinct V-shape cutout on the left, top edge of its tail.  It’s pretty cool to get to know each whale and see them grow over time. We often see the same humpbacks return to our area year after year, so they become like old friends to the whale watchers and scientists.

After a great visit with the area’s largest species of whale, we scooted over to Race Rocks Lighthouse, which has been standing tall here since December 26th of 1860. We got to see the first Steller Sea Lions back from the mating season, including what looked like a female- a rare sighting at Race Rocks as this is typically a male-only haul-out. Scattered around many of the small islands where Harbour Seals sporting many different colours of fur, some mothers nursing their new pups. Harbour Seals are present here year-round and give birth each season from about mid-June to the end of July. It was a fantastic day to be on the Salish Sea and amongst the gentle giants of the Pacific Northwest!

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