The gray whale count for our returning “Sounders” is up to at least 12 now, plus we have an additional newbie making it 13! We’ve seen the gray whale that’s new to our area off the west side of Whidbey Island a few times and it just got an ID number from Cascadia Research – CRC2506. The gray whales that are confirmed so far include CRC 21 (Shackleton), 22 (Earhart), 53 (Little Patch), 56, 185, 383, 531, 2249, 2259, 2356, 2440, 2441, and 2506 (newbie).
One of our recent highlights has been seeing gray whale 21 (Shackleton) raise his flukes out of the water twice on one of our trips! That might not sound all that special, but it is super rare for Shackleton to lift his flukes out of the water. An old injury on the top of his caudal peduncle (tail stock) might limit or make it painful for him to raise those flukes into the air on a deep dive. He’s been coming back to Puget Sound ever since 1990 and this was the first time I’ve ever seen the underside of his flukes. Enjoy some recent pictures including a few at the end of Shackleton showing those flukes. Photographer/ Naturalist Bart Rulon