When a whale plays with kelp, it’s called kelping. When a whale swims like a shark, it’s called sharking. When a whale jumps like a porpoise it’s called porposing. And what do you think it’s called when a whale bobs at the surface like a log?
You guessed it! Logging.
Whale people it seems, are not creative people. So it will come as no surprise that when I revealed the proposed name of our latest exotic visitor to my passengers, I was met with groans and eye roles.
You see, we have been very fortunate these last few weeks to be in the company of the second largest species of animal on the planet . . . the fin whale! Fin whales are uncommon in these waters, and other than last year, haven’t been spotted in the Salish Sea in over 20 years. We were blown away seeing a fin whale again this year!
Since we saw a fin whale…again, his proposed name is… Finnegan! Get it? Fin–again! Fine, fine, role your eyes! I stand by my pun. Fin whales are so rare here we don’t even have a sightings emblem for them, but I swear we saw one!
This is the second fin whale we have seen in as many years, and we are confident it is a different whale than the one that graced our waters last year. The fin whale we saw last year, nicknamed Andre the Giant, was ironically much smaller than Finnegan.
Fin whales belong to a group of whales called baleen whales, and are second in size only to the blue whale. These animals are not only the largest animals on earth today, but the largest animals that have ever inhabited the planet!
Also a member of the baleen whale family is the humpback whale; our typical record holder for largest whale spotted on our tours at just over half the size of a fin whale. 2016 has also proved to be an exceptional year for humpbacks with record numbers appearing to feed.
Whale watchers have been thrilled by the extra activity on our tours, but as always when dealing with wildlife, our optimism is cautious. There are those who speculate the increased numbers of baleen whales indicates, not that the feeding is particularly rich here, but that feeding is so poor that many whale were unable to gain enough weight to make their migration to their breeding grounds this year.
While we struggle to understand the larger meaning behind the gentle giants making greater use of our waters, we can only be grateful that we have the unprecedented opportunity to view them in such numbers.
And don’t forget the orcas! We’re regularly delighting guests with two and three whale species on a single trip. But who knows how long these wild animals will stick around.
Better get out here!
By Jennifer Dickson