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Young humpback whale leaps out of Seattle bay, dazzling onlookers


The Associated Press

In this image taken from a video, a humpback whale breaches from the waters off Seattle on Thursday, Nov. 30, 2023. The whale has been spotted swimming in Elliott Bay for three days. Humpback whales visit the waters of the Seattle area as they migrate up and down the West Coast. (Manuel Valdes / The Associated Press)

SEATTLE (AP) — A humpback whale visiting the waters off Seattle dazzled onlookers Thursday morning with several breaches in the bay just beyond the city’s downtown area.

The whale has been spotted for the last three days swimming around Elliott Bay. But on Thursday, the whale breached for about 40 minutes, also performing several pectoral fin slaps and dives.

Local whale watching groups have identified the young humpback as the calf of an adult female with the identification BCY0995, better known as “Smiley.”

It’s not unusual for humpback whales to visit the waters off Seattle as they migrate along the West Coast.

Smiley’s last calf, Chip, was fatally struck by a Washington state ferry in 2020, according to the Canadian group Vancouver Island Whale Watch. On Thursday, personnel from Soundwatch Boater Education Program shadowed the whale for most of its time in the bay to alert other vessels of it.

Jeff Hogan, co-coordinator of the program’s Seattle branch, said he counted about 30 breaches. And afterward, the young whale slept.

He said the whale looked healthy.

“It was a joyful day,” Hogan said. “Everyone was working together to go out of their way to make space for that animal to do its thing. If we want these guys to be here and come back, we gotta do that.”

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