Friday October 6, 2017 – M.V. Lukwa
Today’s Sightings: Humpback Whales (Claw, Freckles, Meniscus, Conger, Ridge, Moonstar and Slash), Pacific Harbour Seals, Steller Sea Lions, Bald Eagles, Harlequin Ducks, Ancient Murrelets and Common Murres.
We had a true West Coast weather day out on the water and required everything from monsoon gear to sun glasses! The wildlife was of course unconcerned with the wet and windy weather we had at the beginning of today’s trip because it affects their underwater world very little. Luckily for us, there was a lovely sunny break, as we humans aren’t quite as unconcerned about weather as the wildlife we were viewing.
There wasn’t much left of the Steller Sea Lion haul-out due to the very high tide, but a few individuals managed to find some space to rest. The others were all swimming in the water, but in very tight groups, numbering over 30 individuals! Other Steller Sea Lions were seen fishing throughout the trip and could be seen consistently tearing apart Chum Salmon at the surface. One individual was even seen eating his salmon while a Humpback Whale swam by in the background.
The Humpback Whale feeding frenzy continues, and today it was Quartz, Glacier and Claw that we viewed at the bait balls. After one lunge feed, Glacier even returned to the surface opened his/her mouth several times. Looking closely at the photos afterwards, we realized that this Humpback Whale was releasing a gull that had gotten caught in the whale’s mouth! Humpback Whale’s throats are only about as wide as a human hand and therefore all but the smallest birds will not fit down and need to be released at the surface.
Moonstar the Humpback Whale didn’t feed that we saw, but slapped his tail several times against the water while trumpeting. It wasn’t clear to us why Moonstar would seem agitated, but Humpback Whales sometimes slap their tails to communicate or posture to other animals in the area or just because they can. Whatever the reason, it was spectacular to see and hear his enormous tail repeatedly collide against the water.
We only have one more trip left for the 2017 season. Monday October 9th is your last chance to come out and see some of this incredible activity for yourselves. What are you waiting for? Visit our website or come into our office to book your trip!
Photo credit: Alison Ogilvie. All photos are property of Stubbs Island Whale Watching and were taken with a telephoto lens and cropped.