The humpback whale named Pop Tart, for its love of breaching, surfaces in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Pop Tart and two of his siblings were recently spotted off Port Angeles with their mother, Big Mama. (Photo courtesy April Ryan/Pacific Whale Watch Association)

The humpback whale named Pop Tart, for its love of breaching, surfaces in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Pop Tart and two of his siblings were recently spotted off Port Angeles with their mother, Big Mama. (Photo courtesy April Ryan/Pacific Whale Watch Association)

OUTDOORS: Rare humpback whale sibling sighting off Port Angeles

Unlike those finicky eaters, the Southern Resident orca whales, humpback whales are showing a resurgence in the waters of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, according to the Friday Harbor-based Pacific Whale Watch Association.

Described as a “humpback comeback,” the group said the number of humpbacks in the Salish Sea has increased exponentially since a single whale was spotted in the region more than 20 years ago.

“Since whale researchers first documented a single humpback whale in 1997, the humpback whales that migrate each summer to feed in the nutrient-rich waters of the Salish Sea now number in the hundreds,” the whale watch association said in a statement released Tuesday.

More than 500 have been documented in recent years in the Salish Sea, which stretches from the channels of the Discovery Islands north of the Strait of Georgia in British Columbia to Budd Inlet at the south end of Puget Sound near Olympia.

One particular whale, “Big Mama,” and three of her calves have joined the migration to nearby waters this spring.

The association credits Big Mama as a “pioneer and significant contributor to this population increase,” giving birth to six calves since 2003.

Big Mama sparked some excitement Saturday when she was spotted feeding alongside three of her calves in the Strait of Juan de Fuca near Port Angeles.

“We arrived on scene to find three beautiful humpback whales actively lunge feeding in glass-calm conditions under the snow-capped peaks of the Olympic Mountains, just outside of Port Angeles,” said naturalist Samantha Murphy aboard the Island Explorer 5, based in Anacortes.

“All three humpbacks were within close proximity to one another but focused on foraging for bait-fish within separate current lines. As we visited each whale and started to gather ID photos, we were shocked and elated to realize that all three whales were siblings.”

Humpbacks aren’t known for their close family ties as they leave their mothers at younger than a year old, the association said.

Lake check-ins

Lake Leland will be busy this weekend as folks look for somewhere, anywhere, to beat the heat headed our way.

Grilling out will be a good call, as those of us sans air conditioning won’t want to turn on the oven.

And how about some lake fish for table fare?

Quilcene’s Ward Norden checked in with some Jefferson County lake reports this week.

“The water temperature [of Lake Leland] at 18 feet is 74 degrees,” Norden said. “It is getting a bit too warm for trout to be good eating, but the perch and bluegill are biting. Soon, the catfish will begin to bite, and those are especially good eating.”

Norden also spent some time fishing nearby Crocker Lake with no success.

“There is something really wrong biologically at that lake that used to be one of the premier trophy largemouth bass lakes in the whole state back in the 1970s,” Norden said. “A few years after the original poisoning [Rotenone treatment] of the lake … about 30 years ago, there were still a few bass, huge crawfish and giant snails in the lake, which I could see just standing at the unused launch.

“Now there is no sign of any of the three in the water and not even a dimple on the lake during the evening insect hatch.”


United Way of Clallam County is hosting a Hike-A-Thon event through July 31.

Once registered, hikers will receive a link to a Facebook group where they can post stories and pictures about their hikes.

Every hike posted in the group will count as one entry into a weekly drawing for prizes from area businesses such as Granny’s Cafe, Angeles Brewing, Peninsula Taproom, Swain’s and Country Aire.

The price is $35 or $20 without a T-shirt.

For more information, visit


Sports reporter Michael Carman can be contacted at 360-406-0674 or

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