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With the Olympic Mountains framed before us, we left Victoria Harbour heading south. We only needed to travel for approximately 30 minutes before our first species awaited us; two Humpback Whales. Travelling together, they rose and fell as if in a well timed dance. From side on we could see one of the humpbacks had a damaged dorsal fin. Unfortunately boat strikes are one of the threats that Humpback’s face. Humpbacks and other baleen whales do not have echolocation capabilities and so they are less able to see where boats are. Whale watching approach distances and go slow zones are designed to reduce the chances of boat strikes. Whale watching vessels actually serve as good indicators of whale activity in the area. When we are on scene with a whale we are happy to notify approaching vessels to slow down and watch for blows, a role we gladly adopt as we observe these magnificent creatures.
Humpback Whale
Humpback Whale. Photo by Naturalist Emma, image taken with zoom lens and heavily cropped.
From our Humpback viewing point the Captain spotted something else of interest 2 miles away. We cruised over to find another Humpback Whale slapping the water’s surface with its large pectoral fin. Pectoral fins of Humpback Whales can be up to approximately five meters in length!
Humpback Pectoral Fin
The pectoral (front) fin of a Humpback whale. Pectoral fin slaps and waves are normal behaviour for Humpbacks though not an every day occurance. This one was in a playful mood. Photo by Naturalist Gord, image taken with zoom lens and heavily cropped.
In contrast to the dark grey dorsal side of the animals we had been viewing earlier, the ventral side of the pectoral fin was a bright white, and adorned with clumps of barnacles.
Seeing three Humpback Whales in one trip really added a new meaning to Wednesday being “hump day”!
Humpback Whale
Humpback Whale Tail. Photo by Naturalist Emma, image taken with zoom lens and heavily cropped.
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