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Whale update

Posted: Sat May 01, 2021 5:43 pm
by oldsalt
Being Covid cautious, most of our whale watching this year has been from home. This means we see the same gray whales that have been bottom feeding for years, the venerable "Sounders". Their feeding strategy seems to have served them well. The experts, observing them with drones, noticed they have fattened up while here in Puget Sound, and they have all survived two mortality events when large numbers of the greater gray whale population perished from malnutrition.
Sounder from home.

This year we noticed something different. Sounders have been arriving at their normal feeding grounds accompanied by newcomers, sometimes a couple. I mentioned this to a professional naturalist on a whale watching boat, and she noticed the same thing. Here are a couple of examples. In the first picture you can see the pectoral fin of one whale feeding on its side while a second is blowing close behind it.
Two whales
The next photo shows how close they can be to each other.
Close whales
This may be fanciful thinking, but I can't help but wonder if the Sounders are showing the newcomers new feeding grounds, like an old fisherman letting a youngster in on a secret fishing hole. The feeding whales stir up a lot of stuff, attracting seals and birds.
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Whale with birds
The next picture shows a gray whale with a characteristic "heart shaped" spout.
Heart spout
We celebrated our vaccination by going out with Westport Seabirds. The whales appeared as expected, gray whales near shore and humpbacks farther offshore. Dall porpoise provided a treat for me as they schooled around the boat. They are so fast that I usually only get a photo of a splash. These little black and white critters look like mini orca.
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Dall porpoise
Here is a pair.
2 Dalls
-Curt :rawlings:

Re: Whale update

Posted: Sat May 01, 2021 8:08 pm
by Jan K
Interesting. After all the bad news about starving whales ending on beaches, it is great to hear that "our" Sounders are doing OK. And sharing their good fortune with new ones ...

Re: Whale update

Posted: Sat May 01, 2021 10:02 pm
by YellowEye
Very cool!

Re: Whale update

Posted: Mon May 03, 2021 10:23 am
by ScubaJess
So amazing! I love the heart spout :luv: :eric: 💖😍🐳