Witness the phenomenon of the ”Humpback Comeback”
A few decades ago, a humpback sighting in the Salish Sea would be unheard of, but over the last few years, we've experienced a "Humpback Comeback" as these majestic creatures, once nearly hunted to extinction, have returned to our waters in large numbers. In fact, thanks to increased protections for whales around the globe, the number of humpback whales has increased enough that most of the world's humpback populations were recently removed from the endangered species list.
Humpback whales are one of the most beloved and recognized whales in the world.
Found in all the world's oceans, few whales can boast as successful a comeback story as the humpback whale, whose signature songs and images have become a symbol of marine conservation. Thanks to research efforts and technological advances, we are learning more and more about these gentle giants every year.
Each humpback whale has a unique personality and appearance. Our trained naturalists are able to recognize individuals by the markings on their tails, or flukes. Humpback whales tend to return to the same waters annually and so over time, we feel we've become part of the family. It's been a privilege to watch mother humpbacks nurse their calves, calves that become adults and eventually return with offspring of their own.
Humpbacks are perhaps the most acrobatic of the baleen whales, aided by their long, slender pectoral flippers and powerful tails. Lucky passengers may sometimes see "pec-slaps", lobtailing, and even breaching, when the whale jumps out of the water and crashes down with a giant splash. There are many theories as to why whales breach. Some believe they may be communicating with other whales or showing off for a potential mate. Others believe that breaching may help to dislodge parasites, such as barnacles, from the whale's skin. No matter the reason that breaching occurs, when it does, it's always a treat!
Songsters of the Sea
While all humpback whales create sounds, male humpbacks are known for their ability to produce complex "songs", especially near their breeding grounds. Scientists aren't sure whether the songs act to attract females in the area, or to threaten competing males nearby, but males in the same region will all sing the same song which changes each year. The songs, which are repeated dozens of times throughout the day, last 10-20 minutes on average and can be heard hundreds of miles away!
The Secret Lives of Humpback Whales
Humpback whales can be identified by unique markings on the bottom of their tails, or flukes. Island Adventures collaborates with Happy Whale to learn more about where our local humpback whales go when they aren't in the Salish Sea. By matching photos taken on our tours with others taken around the world, we know that the whales we see travel to places like Hawaii and Mexico in the cooler months. You don't have to be a marine biologist or professional whale watcher to take part in this research! Upload your humpback tail photos to www.happywhale.com to try to find a match!
Learn more about the area’s wildlife and scenery.
The waters surrounding our three departure locations offer some of the most diverse whale and wildlife viewing on the west coast. Onboard each of our tours, an experienced naturalist helps identify all of the whales, wildlife, and rich history that this area holds
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See what we've seen on the water. There's a detailed account from every tour since 2003!