BELLINGHAM, Wash. — It was an unusual sight in Bellingham Bay when a massive humpback whale visited ahead of schedule, and closer to shore than anyone expected.
“This humpback whale was spotted here in Bellingham Bay about 20 yards from shore," said marine biologist Erin Gless, executive director of the Pacific Whale Watch Association.
Researchers say it is a good sign and yet another example that the humpback population is flourishing.
“Humpback whales, I’m very happy to say, are doing incredibly well in this region,” Gless said.
Last year was a banner year for the humpback whales. They experienced a record-breaking baby boom in the waters of western Washington. According to the Pacific Whale Watch Association, 21 calves were photographed in the Salish Sea by October. In 2020, there were just 11 calves spotted.
“The fact that we’re seeing these whales kind of in areas where we’re not used to seeing them, to me, is just indicative of the fact that we have so many more whales starting to explore and branch out to areas that they might not have explored before,” Gless said.
And it’s not just the humpback making a splash. A beluga whale was seen in Puget Sound near Commencement Bay. It was the first beluga in central Puget Sound since 1940.
The orca’s that make up the beloved J Pod, members of a group of endangered Southern Resident orcas, welcomed it’s newest member earlier in March.
Gless said that in the last few decades, there has been a "real boom in other types of whales."
This recent humpback sighting is proof of that, Gless said.