TACOMA, Wash., Jan. 19, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Summer is often regarded as peak whale watching season in the Pacific Northwest, but with the help of one special humpback whale, word is spreading that whale watching in Washington is year-round. "Speckles", a young humpback affectionately nicknamed by Island Adventures Whale Watching for the speckled pattern on its back and tail, is fast becoming a local celebrity in Puget Sound.
The small whale was first photographed swimming in Saratoga Passage in March 2016 by Jill Hein, a board member with Orca Network. Since then, Island Adventures has encountered Speckles on many of their winter whale watching tours that started in November from downtown Seattle. For the last two months, the little humpback, likely just 2-3 years old based on size, has taken up temporary residency near Point Defiance in Tacoma, where its tall blows and tail can be seen from shore.
"It was love at first sight," shares whale enthusiast Kristina Trowbridge who joined Island Adventures on Monday in hopes of finding Speckles. "When I first saw this little whale, it brought tears to my eyes." Shane Aggergaard, President of Island Adventures, notes this experience as astounding. "Running from five different departure locations gives us a good insight to patterns. This type of consistent behavior is unlike anything we've seen in recent memory."
In 2016, whale enthusiasts noticed a rise in humpback sightings throughout the Salish Sea during a year some have dubbed the "Humpback Comeback." Island Adventures reported seeing more than 80 humpbacks in a single trip from their Port Angeles location last summer. With the number of humpback whales on the rise, this trend looks to continue into 2017, and could lead to more humpbacks wintering in Puget Sound.
Alisa Lemire Brooks, Whale Sighting Network Coordinator for Orca Network, encourages citizens to report all local whale sightings either through their Orca Network Facebook page, or through their website www.orcanetwork.org. Reports are compiled and sent to organizations like Cascadia Research Collective to identify individual whales and learn more about whale behavior.
In addition to humpback whales, Island Adventures has encountered Southern Resident Killer Whales, transient orcas, and a gray whale so far during their winter season from Seattle. "There's some cooler weather out there," Aggergaard recounts, "but winter whale watching is hot."
For more information on whale sightings, visit www.orcawhales.com.
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SOURCE Island Adventures