Whale watching excursions on the Great Lakes?
Saw a news release from Traverse City Tourism Bureau saying they have tourists show up several times each summer asking about the availability of “Whale Watching” excursions. That got my mind going in several directions at once.
My first thought was, if that many people show up asking about Great Lakes whale watching just out of the blue, what if I did a bit of marketing? The guy who invented Pet Rocks is still sipping wine coolers on a tropical beach, isn’t he? For an immodest fee, I’d be glad to chauffeur whale enthusiasts around Lake Michigan for a couple hours checking out the likeliest spots to catch a rare glimpse. No guarantees for success, mind you, but there was no guarantee your pet rock was really house broken, either.
My second thought was, if lampreys, alewives, salmon and other invasives from salt water can survive in the Great Lakes, why not a few whales?
So I did some checking.
Unlike the majority of saltwater fish, which can’t make the transition from salty water to fresh water, whales are mammals. Salt water offers them several advantages but there is no reason they can’t live in fresh water. Salt water gives them more space to live and roam. Granted they may get a bit claustrophobic passing through the Welland Canal Locks, but once they got to Ontario, Erie, Huron or under the bridge and into Lake Michigan, I think they’d not feel overly confined.
Salt water gives them buoyancy, as well, making it easier to swim or at least float to the top for a breath of air. I’m thinking a whale tough enough to swim upstream through the Detroit River is tough enough for anything.
Lack of food could be an issue, but if they’d learn to suck quagga mussels off the bottom they’d have plenty to eat. Perhaps they could snack on the fish-hook fleas, as well.
Actually, I learned there are up to seven species of whales that have been spotted in the St. Lawrence River almost as far upstream as Quebec City. Many are casual visitors, but beluga whales are present in the river year-round.
It’s just a matter of time before whales make their move inland. Anyone want to sign up for a whale watching excursion?