Whale I'll be.

OK, ok, I'll try to keep the cetacean puns to a minimum. I'm just very excited because there's a new baby animal in Washington waters, and that's cause for celebration!

Meet Black Pearl's newest, yet unnamed baby

Over the past week, whale watchers in the Salish Sea have reported seeing a mother humpback with a young 3 to 4-month-old calf. The Pacific Whale Watch Association (PWWA) has confirmed the sightings and identified the mother as BCX1460 - nicknamed "Black Pearl." (Why? Crosscut explains the whale naming system.)

Black Pearl usually heads to Vancouver Island, PWWA reports, but this year has graced Salish Sea with a visit. That means whale watchers get a rare chance to see her young calf - the first to appear for the season.

Where did Black Pearl and her baby come from?

These humpback whales spend their winters near the Hawai'ian islands, where they eventually give birth. When the weather begins to warm, the whales return to the northern Pacific oceans. They'll stay through most of the year to feed on the plentiful fish and sealife available in the colder waters before turning back south for the next winter.

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Because the return of the humpbacks depends on weather and climate, their exact arrival is unpredictable. Last year, the first calf of the season didn't debut until June. However, in 2022, the first calf was spotted at the beginning of May - close to the calendar date of this year's discovery.

So why does the baby whale matter?

The humpback whale is a Washington State endangered species. The population had previously been decimated by whale hunters, leaving the inland coastal waters of the Pacific Northwest completely deprived of these massive mammals. However, the whales returned 27 years ago (in 1997), marking a point in their recovery after conservation efforts.

Still, humpback whales face threats to this day. The video below explains one of those threats and how scientists are working to help rescue whales in the region. After that, check out the full list of endangered Washington animals!

Now if you don't mind, I'm off to figure out how to rewrite "Baby Beluga" into "Baby Humpback Whale".

LOOK: Washington State's 33 Endangered Species

There are endangered species everywhere in the world, but it can be hard to remember that some of them are close to home. Here are Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW)'s list of endangered species in the state, as last revised in February 2022.

Gallery Credit: Jaime Skelton

Sometimes whales wash ashore - here are some past incidents.

Not quite sure why they are washing up on beaches and shores all over Oregon and Washington. Many guesses deal with disease, chances to Ocean Currents and food supply, and even military sonar technology messing with them. We may never know. Take a look at some of the news reports from the past.

Gallery Credit: tsm/Timmy!

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