Whale Ping Pong

Highlights from Tuesday’s day of whale watching included the 5 large but bashful whales we saw on our 10:00 Whale Watch. Our guests saw lots of diving, and lots of flukes. We’re always happy when we can see the flukes, and we do try to photograph them…see today’s Humpback Fact of the Day for the reason why. On the Whales and Cocktails Cruise, guests saw 15 different whales. When we first left the Bay, we saw a pod of two that seemed pretty active…and then another pod of two. So we headed towards that first, more active pod, but wouldn’t you know it?? As soon as we got there, they got quiet, but the other pod suddenly became more active…so we decided to turn around and head back towards them. Of course, as we got closer, they quieted down but the first pod got active again…so we decided to turn around again, (whale ping-pong) and headed back towards them. This time they stayed active! We saw about 25 tail slaps from the two of them, and a couple of times they got within 100 yards of the boat (remember, we need to maintain a 100 yard distance, but it’s ok for the whales to approach us as long as we aren’t actively pursuing them). We also saw 3 breaches from other whales in the distance. At the end of this trip, we saw another competitive pod…but they were out of our range at that point and we had to go home.
Captain Claire’s Humpback Whale Fact of the Day: One of the best ways whale watchers have to identify individual Humpbacks is by the unique markings on the ventral (underside) of their flukes (tails). Currently, the National Marine Mammal Laboratory based in Seattle maintains a data base containing more than 30,000 photos of the North Pacific Humpbacks flukes for identification purposes, but other researchers, including those involved in the 3 season SPLASH (Structure of Populations, Levels of Abundance and Status of Humpbacks) project have also used these patterns to identify who’s who in the whale world and estimate population levels.