July 26, 2022
Breaching Humpback Calf in the Haro Strait
The crew was anxious to get out into the cool breeze of the Salish Sea on this hot Tuesday afternoon. Our sweaty faces were met with the cool air of the San Juan Channel as Captain Gabe picked up speed. We headed north into Spieden Channel following reports of humpback whales entering the Haro Strait. Humpback whales are one of our migratory cetaceans we see in these waters. Traveling from the coasts of Maui and Baja Mexico, these humpbacks journey to their feeding grounds of the Salish Sea each summer.
Upon arriving on scene, we could not contain our excitement. Traveling north up the northwest edge of San Juan Island was Barracuda (BCY0649) and her new calf! Barracuda was first spotted in 2007 and has brought two calves with her to the Salish Sea in the time we have known her.
And they did not disappoint.
Our vessel watched with gaping mouths as this newborn calf breached three times out of the water! Breaching is a behavior when a whale will propel its body entirely out of the water -- often landing at an angle back on the surface. This young whale also gave several pectoral fin slaps along the water, always close to his or her mom’s side. I could not contain my excitement. It is always a special treat to spend time with humpbacks, a species that was hit so hard as a result of whaling for over a century. And to bear witness to a mother introducing her calf to these waters for the first summer is a privilege I do not take lightly.
I returned to Friday Harbor reflecting on the work of conservationists around the world collaborating to save so many marine animals who are in the same dire positions the humpback once was. It made me hopeful and evermore motivated to continue to support and spread awareness of conservation and sustainability efforts in the Salish Sea and beyond.