Great Lakes Whale Migration 2023; Two Whales Spotted in Old Mission Harbor | Jane Boursaw Photo
Great Lakes Whale Migration 2023; Two Whales Spotted in Old Mission Harbor | Jane Boursaw Photo
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Well, it’s that time of year again. The time of year when we all start scanning the bays for whale sightings. I can officially report that the Great Lakes Whale Migration has begun for 2023.

As in previous years, the whales have been showing up right on time each year – April 1st – and this year is no exception. While I was down that way earlier today checking my box at the Old Mission Post Office, I swung into Haserot Beach and was thrilled to see not one, but TWO, whales frolicking around in Old Mission Harbor. I think they were both Humpbacks.

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They were having a blast out there. I’m guessing maybe the recent snow and rain and wind brought them in from Lake Michigan to shelter in the harbor as they make their way north. It’s been a few years since I’ve spotted my first whale in the harbor rather than West Bay, so I was especially giddy about the sighting.

It gets pretty deep in the harbor, but you can see that one of them is quite close to shore. He swam out around Old Mission Point and then swam back in to where the other whale was flopping his tale around.

And TWO whales! I think this is the first time I’ve seen two in the same location. I was just chatting with my pals, Dave and Pam Baumann, who have a place in Old Mission village, and we were remarking that none of us had seen two at the same time. There is a first for everything!

It was pretty quiet at the beach, but there was a white pickup in the parking lot when I drove in, so I hope they were were as thrilled as I was to see those whales out there splashing around.

As always, I have to give a shout-out to Merlin “Zeke” Dumbrille, who began tracking the Great Lakes Whale Migration years ago on WTCM Newstalk Radio. Merlin, a beloved radio announcer for decades (and host of the popular “Farm and Orchard Time”), has since passed away, but we are happy to continue his “Whale Watch” legacy here on Old Mission Gazette.

Along with reporting on the whale migration each year, I’ll never forget how Merlin would hook a long cord to his microphone and walk out on the ice to Power Island to see if he could officially announce that the bay was frozen over, giving up-to-the-minute reports back to Ron Jolly in the radio studio. I sure do miss Merlin.

To celebrate the Great Lakes Whale Migration, I’ve started a new group called the “Great Lakes Whale Watchers Club.” Last year, a few of us got together and hiked out at the north end, and we were delighted to see a Humpback in East Bay just off the Ridgewood Trail. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for them now.

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

P.S. If you’re interested, I have a “Great Lakes Whale Watchers Club” t-shirt posted here in the OMP Store. I’ll add the logo to some other stuff soon, too. (Which, you know, for me means sometime in the next couple years.)

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62 COMMENTS

  1. Hey Jane, with the really warm water in the bay all winter, and no ice, I really thought they would migrate earlier this year. I have been watching the bay for at least two weeks now hoping to see one. But now I am thinking that the migration may be triggered by the length of the day rather than temperature, as they always seem to show at exactly the same date. Our friend John Jacobs has a web cam set up on the north shore of Old Mission Bay and he also had one broach just off the beach on April one which we were all excited to see.
    Thanks for the report, this is always an exciting event for us!

  2. Does anyone troll for whales and if so can you use walleye gear or do you need to up to salmon rigs?

    • Yea, you can use walleye and pike, and the latest is makko granda trolling gear, but make sure you have your Hump back, primitt it only allows for two too be caught ,get selfies and release after weighing and measuring..watch the tail. It kill you if you get close during release,good luck,,
      Whale,catch,release ,old FARTS CLUB..( the human way too harras the whales…;)¿?¿¿Ha,ha.

  3. No whales in freshwater, so either it’s an April Fool’s joke or someone hit their head a little too hard.

  4. It may be an April Fool’s joke, but, it would be awesome to have t-shirts printed up and see what kind of conversations come up when you’re wearing it. A lot of gullible people out there!

  5. I heard Yeti seen Nessy out at the Sand Dunes yesterday on lake Michigan again. We are living in exciting times.

  6. I love whales and turtles and all that kind of stuff. I do my best to help out and donate, and when I read Great Lakes and like, wait a minute, there’s no whales in the Great Lakes, and as I kept reading – April Fools.

  7. Oh my. I was scratching my head and scanning the pictures. Until I read the Comments.. lol ALMOST had me, almost.

  8. Nice local color jive, but I’m trying to get a picture of these critters negotiating the Welland Canal at St. Catherines, Canada. Then there is the food source, as they are filter feeders.

  9. I saw three humpbacks breeching in Stillhouse Lake in Texas two weekends ago. They are magnificent creatures!

  10. The Vermilion Station on Lake Superior west of Whitefish Pt is the only remaining freshwater whaling station in the Great Lakes.The last of the freshwater whales disappeared after construction of the Soo Locks blocked migration to their spawning grounds.

  11. Okay,Whales in the Grreat Lakes?
    How did they get there?
    I thought whales only salt water.
    Wow! Learn something new every day.
    More pictures please.

  12. Belated “Happy April Fool’s Day”
    I clicked because I thought at first it referred to some California place, but I recognized Michigan scenery.
    You got me!

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