© Five Star Whale Watching/Katie Smith. Image — A Humpback whale’s white pectoral fins visible above water, as indicated by the turquoise area in the image.
We had an amazing encounter today with a massive humpback whale in the Strait of Juan de Fuca today.
Humpback whales are massive, migratory cetaceans that travel between breeding grounds in the warmer latitudes and feeding grounds in the colder latitudes every year. Their scientific name, Megaptera novaeangliae, means ‘Big-winged New Englander’, and our guests were thrilled to see exactly that today. Humpback whales have ~15 feet long pectoral fins that are often mostly white in colour. During our encounter today, the visibility was very clear and the whale was swimming rather close to the surface of the water. This gave us the opportunity to see the turquoise coloured pectoral fins(as seen in the photo above) right through the water.
We also got to have a good look at the whale’s peculiar dorsal fin. We were happy to explain to our guests how researchers use the shape of the dorsal fins as well as the black and white patterns on the underside of the tail to identify individual humpback whales. At one point during our trip, we noticed the whale had the Giant kelp as well as some Fucus wrapped around its rostrum. It was likely playing in the kelp bed and ended up taking some along.
After our fantastic encounter with the humpback whale, we also saw a juvenile bald eagle perched high on a rock, California and Steller sea lions sunbathing, Ollie the sea otter wrapping himself in bull kelp, as well as harbour seals.
To view more images from our trip today, click on the following links.