Just over a week ago I went down to Virginia Beach to go whale watching with Tom McCann of The Nature Conservancy. It’s interesting how many Richmonders I told about it that couldn’t believe you can see humpback, fin, sei and right whales (and others) all within sight of the beach highrises. Not only can you, but a few of the people I talked to down there say this might the best year ever for whale watching. The warm winter has led to warmer water temperatures and baitfish coming much closer to shore than usual. Not surprisingly, the predators, like whales, follow the baitfish.
McCann and I went out on a trip organized by the Virginia Aquarium and Marine Science Center and Rudee Tours, and sightings have been so consistent that they extended the whale watching season until April 1st. We saw maybe 15 breaches by humpback whales during our two-hour trip. One of the whales showed us its fluke, but I couldn’t get it on camera. If you have the time, this trip is worth the 2-hour drive. It’s quite a thing to be that close to a humpback whale.
The day after I left, a dead fin whale, a 42-foot juvenile, washed up on shore near Norfolk, the likely victim of a boat strike. Fin whales are the second largest whale in the sea, after blue whales. It’s a sad thing to see, but with all the boat traffic in that area, whale strikes are becoming more common.