Great Lakes Whale Migration Begins, Humpback Spotted in West Bay

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The Great Lakes Whale Migration has officially begun. While driving around the Old Mission Peninsula this morning, we spotted this Humpback Whale in West Bay near Power Island. We were super excited to see this big guy breach out of the water just off the island. So glad we decided to drive down Peninsula Drive. Fortunately, I had my camera ready to grab that photo.

While it’s still a little early for the annual whale migration around the Great Lakes, experts with The Watershed Center and Michigan Sea Grant are speculating that the high water levels around the Great Lakes are attracting a growing number of whales earlier in the season. This also might be the reason why whales stuck around northern Michigan throughout the summer and fall last year.

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We do know that water levels will likely continue to rise in the year ahead, so if that’s true, chances are good we’ll see a steady stream of whales throughout the northern Michigan region this year. If anyone has data to back up the water level/whale connection, tell us in the comments below.

Actually, when I look back at the start of last year’s whale migration, it was on this same day last year when we spotted one off the shore of Haserot Beach. So maybe this is becoming the norm.

As in previous years, Mission Point Lighthouse Manager Ginger Schultz says they will be offering whale rides for a nominal fee this summer, and since we’re all practicing social distancing right now, this is a great way to have some safe family fun. Proceeds will help fund special projects at the lighthouse, with a percentage also going to protect the Great Lakes whales.

I’ve heard rumors about a Great Lakes Whale Migration Festival over the past few years, but recently heard that’s on hold for the time being, until things start to ease up and it’s safe to gather together with friends. We’ll keep you updated with any news we hear.

I spoke with the folks at the Traverse City Visitor Center this morning, and they confirmed that they’re getting a lot of inquiries about the whale migration, and whale-watching trips scheduled for later in the summer are already selling out fast.

We also have some very exciting news about the Great Lakes Whale Migration in the coming days, so stay tuned to Old Mission Gazette and our social media channels for that.

Have you seen any whales yet around the Old Mission Peninsula or northern Michigan? Let us know in the comments below!

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A NOTE FROM JANE: I started Old Mission Gazette in 2015 because I felt a calling to provide the Old Mission Peninsula community with local news. After decades of writing for newspapers and magazines like the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Family Circle and Ladies' Home Journal, I really just wanted to write about my own community where I grew up on a cherry farm and raised my own family. So I started my own newspaper.

Because Old Mission Gazette is a "Reader Supported Newspaper" -- meaning it exists because of your financial support -- I hope you'll consider tossing a few bucks our way if I mention your event, your business, your organization or your news item, or if you simply love reading about what's happening on the OMP. In a time when local news is becoming a thing of the past, supporting an independent community newspaper is more important now than ever.

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  1. Great stuff I was almost fooled I spend alot of my youth on lake superior and Michigan they are majestic places it’s time for people to rise above the circumstances and realize that their is majesty out there
    This problems ste not to big for a God of majesty

    That once walked on the water I great stuff who knows

  2. I have been scuba diving West Bay many years and have never seen the whales till now. WOW. Keep those pictures coming.

  3. I would just like to correct one inaccuracy. No self-respecting Peninsula resident would call Marion Island “Power Island.” LOL

  4. Oh, yes, Moby comes annually to Haserot Beach to check on it’s condition. It is always early April, he likes cooler water but not ice!

  5. OMG Thank you! I was just heading in to comment, WHAT how did I miss this for the 13 years I lived there! Good one, Jane!

    • We were thinking about the fact that if they’ve continued to appear on the same date for over a decade, then the April 1st date really doesn’t qualify as being ‘early’ , does it? We think the official date for the migration should be changed to April 1st.😀🐋


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