Wild Nature

published : 2023-12-02

Calf of humpback whale 'Smiley' astounds Seattle residents with breathtaking display

Washington whale watching groups emphasize the importance of giving the visiting whale space

A breathtaking aerial photograph captures 'Smiley', the humpback whale, breaching in the pristine waters off Seattle. Taken with a Sony Alpha A7R III camera.

In a mesmerizing spectacle, a humpback whale visiting the waters off Seattle left onlookers awe-struck on a sunny morning. The magnificent creature, playfully named 'Smiley,' delighted residents with a series of breathtaking breaches in the bay just beyond the city's downtown area.

For three consecutive days, the young humpback had been making appearances in Elliott Bay, capturing the attention and curiosity of locals. But it was on this particular Thursday that the whale truly stole the show—showcasing its agile acrobatics by repeatedly launching its massive body out of the water for a remarkable 40 minutes. Not content with just breaches, 'Smiley' also treated the audience to captivating pectoral fin slaps and dives, further adding to the spectacle.

Seattle residents gathering at the waterfront witness the majestic display of 'Smiley' leaping out of Elliott Bay. This incredible photograph, taken with a Nikon D850, encapsulates the awe-inspiring moment.

Whale watching groups, deeply committed to safeguarding these majestic creatures, immediately recognized the young humpback as the calf of a well-known adult female identified as BCY0995, affectionately known as 'Smiley.' Previous unfortunate events had unfolded for 'Smiley' and her offspring, as her last calf named Chip tragically lost its life in a collision with a Washington state ferry in 2020. Determined to protect this young whale, personnel from the Soundwatch Boater Education Program shadowed its every move in the bay, diligently alerting other vessels to its presence and ensuring its safety.

Jeff Hogan, the co-coordinator of the program's Seattle branch, shared his exhilaration at witnessing the performance of the young whale. He recounted counting more than 30 breaches during the display, indicating the boundless energy and exuberance of the magnificent creature. After this magnificent spectacle, the whale seemed to enter a state of calm, succumbing to a peaceful slumber.

As the sun sets over Seattle's skyline, a golden glow illuminates 'Smiley', the calf of the humpback whale, as it gracefully dives beneath the surface of Elliott Bay. This captivating image, taken with a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, reflects the serenity and beauty of the encounter.

Hogan expressed his delight at the collective efforts made to give 'Smiley' the space it needed to showcase its natural behaviors. Strengthening the bond between humans and these awe-inspiring creatures is paramount, not only for their continued presence in our waters but also for future migrations and interactions. The importance of maintaining a respectful distance and allowing them to freely navigate their surroundings cannot be overstated.

This encounter with 'Smiley' and its breathtaking display serves as a reminder of the awe-inspiring wonders that nature bestows upon us. It is a testament to the resilience and grace of these remarkable creatures that captivate our hearts and stir a deep sense of reverence for the natural world.