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Today we went towards Race Rocks Ecological Reserve. The water was calm and the sky was sunny. Passengers were treated to a Humpback Whale on the way!

Humback flukes
Humpback Whale lifting its tail flukes out of the water. Photo by Captain Yves, taken with zoom lens and heavily cropped.

Humpback Whales are in the area for a quick rest on their way up north. Humpbacks migrate annually from the warm waters of Hawaii and Mexico up to the cold nutrient-rich waters of Alaska.

Humpback Whale
Humpback Whale showing its blow holes and dorsal hump at the surface. Photo by Captain Yves, taken with zoom lens and heavily cropped.

The colder water holds more food for Humpbacks to filter feed than warm tropical water. Schools of fish and krill are easy for Humpbacks to capture by taking a large mouthful of seawater. The seawater is then pushed out of the whales mouth while the food is caught in the comb-like baleen hanging from the whale’s upper jaw.

Humpback Whale waterfall
Waterfall off the tail of a Humpback Whale. Photo by Captain Yves, taken with zoom lens and heavily cropped.

When the boat arrived at Race Rocks there were several Harbour Seals hanging around. Some were in the water amongst the kelp. Others were out of the water warming up on the rocks.

Harbour Seal in the Kelp
Harbour Seal in the Kelp at Race Rocks Ecological Reserve. Photo by Captain Yves, taken with zoom lens and heavily cropped.

Harbour Seals are warmblooded and have a layer of blubber to keep warm. Each day they find a partially submerged rock to rest on at high tide. As the tide drops they are left perched on a rock, high above the water line. Safe from waves and swell, the seals can dry off and warm up.

California Sea Lion
California Sea Lion at Race Rocks Ecological Reserve. Photo by Captain Yves, taken with zoom lens and heavily cropped.

California Sea Lions are also common at Race Rocks. These sea lions are known for their dog-like ‘bark’ and pronounced forehead ridge. The ridge, called a saggital crest, is most prominent in mature males.

Race Rocks Lighthouse
Race Rocks Lighthouse and Ecological Reserve. Photo by Captain Yves.

The Race Rocks Lighthouse was illuminated in 1860 and the tower is visible from 10 nautical miles away. The light itself is visible at 19 nautical miles. After we departed the the lighthouse, the Humpback Whale made another appearance. What a way to end a trip!

Humpback whale dorsal hump
Humpback whale showing its dorsal hump before diving underwater. Photo by Captain Yves, image taken with zoom lens and heavily cropped.

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