On Thursday morning, a humpback whale treated onlookers along the shores of Seattle to a captivating display in the waters.
Thursday morning brought a dazzling display to onlookers in Seattle as a visiting humpback whale treated them to numerous breaches just beyond the city’s downtown area in Elliott Bay.
Moreover, this young humpback, identified as the calf of the well-known “Smiley” (BCY0995), had been spotted swimming around the bay for the past three days. During this particular encounter, the whale engaged in a mesmerizing 40-minute performance, showcasing not only breaches but also captivating pectoral fin slaps and dives. Local whale watching groups were quick to identify and share the remarkable behaviors of this marine spectacle.
The appearance of humpback whales in the waters off Seattle is a common occurrence as they migrate along the West Coast.
Tragically, Smiley’s previous calf, Chip, fell victim to a fatal collision with a Washington state ferry in 2020, as reported by the Canadian group Vancouver Island Whale Watch. On Thursday, the Soundwatch Boater Education Program closely monitored the whale during its time in the bay, ensuring that other vessels were duly alerted to its presence.
Counting approximately 30 breaches, Jeff Hogan, co-coordinator of the Seattle branch of the program, observed the young whale sleeping thereafter.
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Humpback Whale Characteristics
Size and Appearance
- Humpback whales are one of the larger whale species. Adults range from 40 to 60 feet (12 to 18 meters) in length.
- Additionally they have a robust body, a large head, and long pectoral fins. Which can be up to one-third of their body length.
Barnacles and Tubercles
- Humpback whales often have barnacles and raised areas called tubercles on their heads and flippers. These features are home to various marine organisms and can provide information about the whale’s health and migration patterns.
- Humpback whales undertake long-distance migrations. They travel between feeding areas in cold, nutrient-rich waters and breeding/calving grounds in warmer tropical or subtropical regions.
Breaching and Tail Slapping
- One of the most iconic behaviors of humpback whales is breaching, where they leap out of the water and splash back down. This behavior is believed to serve various purposes, including communication and parasite removal.
- Humpbacks are also known for tail slapping, where they repeatedly slap their tails on the water’s surface.
Overall, in a fleeting yet awe-inspiring encounter, the waters off Seattle hosted a breathtaking performance by a young humpback whale. Furthermore, this marine spectacle unfolded with numerous breaches, pectoral fin slaps, and graceful dives. The poignant tale, however, carries the weight of tragedy as it echoes the loss of Smiley’s previous calf, underscoring the ongoing challenges faced by these majestic creatures in shared waters. As we reflect on this captivating episode, it serves as a poignant reminder of the delicate coexistence between human activities and the captivating marine life that graces our shores. May this encounter inspire continued efforts in marine conservation, fostering a future where the grace of humpback whales remains a source of wonder for generations to come.
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