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San Juan Islands, Washington State, United States
A society formed in 2009 for the purpose of collecting, preserving, celebrating, and disseminating the maritime history of the San Juan Islands and northern Puget Sound area. Check this log for tales from out-of-print publications as well as from members and friends. There are circa 500, often long entries, on a broad range of maritime topics; there are search aids at the bottom of the log. Please ask for permission to use any photo posted on this site. Thank you.

16 September 2013

❖ WHALE OFF WHIDBEY ISLAND ❖

"Little-piked" whale, 
Off Double Bluff, Whidby Island, Washington State.
Original photo from the S. P. H. S. , dated 5 July 1954.
"Puget Sound summers not only lure thousands of tourists––now they've convinced a whale this is the place to spend the summer.
      The whale is a full grown little-piked whale. The "little" is misleading. This whale weighs four to five tons.
      For the past four summers the visitor has appeared off the shore of Double Bluff, on the west side of Whidby Island. And the whale is there again this summer [1954].
      Spinning fishermen and Game Department men have had the huge mammal for a fishing partner regularly off Double Bluff, one of the state's top spinning grounds.
      The whale is the smallest species of the baleen whales of the Pacific Coast, maturing at about 27 to 30-ft.
      The first Puget Sound specimen on record was found on the north shore of Admiralty Inlet, a few miles north of Double Bluff, in 1872. It was 27-ft long.
      Little-piked whales reportedly were captured by Indians off Cape Flattery and the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
      A young female specimen was captured in a salmon trap off Whidby Island in 1928. It was brought to Seattle, where it was frozen. It still is on exhibit at the Port of Seattle's Frozen Fish Exhibit at the Spokane Street cold-storage warehouse. It is 13-ft long and weighed about 1,400 pounds.
      Two specimens were found in fresh-water tributaries of Puget Sound. In 1929 McAllister Creek Estuary in the Nisqually Valley gave up one, and another swam up the Snohomish River for more than ten miles before it was killed in 1938.
      A whale of this type was found in 1945 on the beach of Waadah Island, Neah Bay, WA. It was thought that this whale fell victim to antisubmarine devices during WW II.
      The little-piked whale feasts on candlefish and does not disturb salmon. It is hunted commercially by Norwegian whalers.
      Many persons have confused the little-piked whale with the  blackfish, or killer whale. The blackfish measures only about 15-ft."
Above text as reported in The Seattle Times, 5 July 1954.
Species map from the IUCN Red List website.

This whale, now more commonly known in the PNW as the Minke whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) has innumerable common names. It is found in all oceans. No known estimate of total global population but estimates from parts of the range in the N. Hemisphere show it is well above threshold for the threatened category. For more information on the habitat see the IUCN Red List here

   
Double Bluff beach at the State Park ,
South Whidbey's best public beach.
24,000+ ft stretch of beach on the SW shore,
Marine Area 9 (Admiralty Inlet).

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