May 23, 2022

Humpback Whale Calf Breaches in the Gulf

Humpback Whale Breaching

Olivia | M/V Sea Lion | May 23rd, 2022 | 12:30pm

The Pacific Northwest decided to pull one of her most cliché moves by raining on a day that didn’t call for it; but off we went with happy faces ready for whatever the day brought. Heading north, we stopped at Flattop Island admiring heaps of Pigeon Guillemots with their red feet bold against the green water. Nearby we found several Harbor Seals swimming along the basalt rock as well as an adult Bald Eagle stoically looking across the islands.

It wasn’t soon after we pointed our bow towards Boundary Pass that we heard reports of a mom and calf Humpback Whale just south of East Point on Saturna Island. Off we went passing many Harbor Porpoise along the way!

Coming on scene we quickly learned that it was “Big Mama” [BCY0324] who we have been seeing on and off traveling and feeding with her [7th] calf! This young calf has been quite spritely this spring and today was no different! After a few casual breaths at the surface, this calf, who is only a few months old, started sowing its oats and testing out what that body can do! We watched as it {unsure of gender at this stage} lifted its pectoral fins into the air, tossing its peduncle out of the water, and became an aspiring gymnast cartwheeling while mom was chilling just ahead.

However, mom and calf both started breaching out of the water- not once, not twice, but repeatedly! This went from a young calf learning the parameters of its body, to a real teaching moment practicing the same behaviors mom was showing. These skills will be used throughout the calf’s life, and we had the pleasure of witnessing history in the making.

While it was hard to contain our excitement, today surpassed all expectations and became one of the best trips of the 2022 season. If this spring has any foresight into the summer, this year is going to be one for the books!