Humpbacks In Fitz Hugh Sound. July 23, 2018
20 August 2018
Photo: The white tail of a humpback whale.
We had rolled up our jib to enter the channels to Green Island Anchorage in Fitz Hugh Sound on British Columbia's Central Coast when a sudden eruption of white water ahead caught my eye. I grabbed the binoculars in time to see the distinctive white tail of a humpback whale rise in the air. I expected to see it disappear into the water as the whale dove but instead it came down hard on the surface of the water with a resounding splash. The whale was lobtailing: striking the water repeatedly with its tail.
Another whale popped up next to the first and did the same thing, then the first whale (or was it a third?) rose up out of the water, its entire body in view before plunging back with an even bigger splash.
For the next 15 minutes the whales entertained us with their lobtailing and diving. Finally, the water turned quiet and we saw the whales' backs moving north toward the island and away from us. The show was over.
Each year that we have sailed through Fitz Hugh Sound we have seen more whales than the first year. A researcher we met at Shearwater confirmed our observations; more humpbacks come to Fitz Hugh now than previously but they don't know why. We used to think of humpbacks as an Alaskan phenomenon only but no more.