August 5, 2019

Humpback Pair Relaxing in the Straight of Georgia!

Humpback whale

Laura C. | M/V Kittiwake | 8-5-2019 | 11:00am

M/V Kittiwake provided a beautiful wildlife tour all the way in the Straight of Georgia today!  We had morning reports of humpback whales south of Point Roberts, and once we arrived in that vicinity, we were happily greeted by beautiful humpbacks fluking into the horizon!  The pair was slowly foraging through the area, traveling at about 2 knots and heading northwest.  Their slow deliberate movements at the surface allowed passengers to enjoy their graceful and gentle personalities.  One well known whale, Heather, brought her tail or fluke high up into the sky and she went under the water for a dive!  These two humpbacks were associated with one another and traveling side-by-side, with Heather acting as the fluking caboose! 

Humpback whales synchronize their dives, typically fluking in a consistent order with one another as they go underwater.  Humpback whales do not travel in family groups or pods and the only long-term association is between a female and her calf, lasting a year.  They have been called “solitary” in the past, but I believe they are highly social individuals and recognize one another even after spending years apart.  They breed within the same population and would have to recognize close relatives to avoid inbreeding and to expand their genetic variation.  Heather and her associate have been seen feeding in the area north of East Point multiple times this season.  This observation alone validates that they recognize one another and are quite social!

After we said goodbye to these graceful leviathans, we made our way south past Waldron Island and stopped along White Rocks.  Passengers were excited to see over 30 harbor seals basking on the warm dry rocks nearby.  We were even able to pick out harbor seal pups resting closely next to their mothers!  Two bald eagles were resting on the tallest point of White Rocks above the seals, completing the picturesque wildlife scene around us!