Each year we report the movements of the whales on Lake Superior. The reports are sightings sent by residents and visitors along the North Shore of Lake Superior. If you spot whale activity, let us know by filling out the form on the right! We accept photos, too! Confused? see the right hand column [desktop] bottom of page [mobile].
Check out this whale action from April 2023, then explore all the North Shore Activities
Holy cow! A new sighting in Lake Superior!
At Grand Marais Harbor, April 1 😉
Are there really whales in Lake Superior
June 29, 2017
Next to the Aerial Lift Bridge!
LSWWS comments: I’ve had verbal confirmation, too. The whales are on the move!
February 8, 2017
Rare Canal Park sighting
Walking along Canal Park one afternoon and this beauty breached the water. Good thing I had my camera out to get a shot of the lighthouse!
LSWWS comments: Wow! Nice shot!
January 21, 2017
January sighting near Lutsen
Upon arriving at our condo in Lutsen I stepped out on the deck with my camera, (D300 Nikon with 600mm telephoto lens) and got incredibly lucky with this shot. Not sure what type of whale it was, and never saw it again although I monitored the lake for hours during our week’s stay.
LSWWS comments: Great shot, Gary! Looks like the Lake Superior Minke whale.
January 11, 2017
Grey Whale Migration in Marquette
Caught a group of Grey whales feeding up in the shallows along McCarty’s Cove. Cold day, but a couple Yoopers came out to watch. The Grey Whales should be around a couple more days before continuing their migration up to Copper Harbor.
LSWWS comments: Thanks for a report from the South Shore of Lake Superior!
August 30, 2016
My family and I were having some frozen custard on the rooftop deck at Sidney’s in Grand Marais when we caught the tail end of a whale breaching in the bay. Probably the same whale Mary saw while snorkeling! There was a crowd there – it was a warm day!
LSWWS comments: Fantastic Cindy! The warmer summer and warmer lake temps have increased whale activity in the Grand Marais area.
June 29, 2016
While snorkeling off Grand Marais’ harbor, this past June 25th, we were startled to come upon a twain of whale romping in the shallows. We were able to snap a quick shot, capturing the blowhole, before the twosome took the plunge.
LSWWS comments: LSWWS comments:
June 13, 2016
I think I saw a beluga whale
. . . off Black’s Point in Lutsen
LSWWS comments: It wouldn’t be a beluga as that breed is not found in Lake Superior; good to hear they are moving up the shore.
May 28, 2016
Boy I do love waking up to all these fresh water whales frolicking around!!
LSWWS comments: Nothing beats a morning whale sighting!
May 27, 2016
Great Lakes Whale Originally on WISCONSIN State Flag
A Great Lakes whale was depicted directly above the shield on the design of the flag adopted by the Wisconsin Territorial Legislature in anticipation of being granted statehood. To the left of the shield stands a seaman, more specifically, a whaler, holding a hank of rope. (Great Lakes whaling, of course, was practiced by the more humane method of lassoing, rather than employing the cruel practice of harpooning, as was traditionally done in marine whaling).
In those days, the lead mining interests in the Southwestern corner of the state, represented by the miner standing to the right of the shield, held much sway in the Legislature and, with the help of wealthy owners of the logging industry up North, were able to get the whale replaced by a badger in the design approved in the first session after Wisconsin was admitted into the Union in 1848. The representatives of the mining and logging interests expressed concern that sooner or later Wisconsin would have a University and their sports teams might become known as the Whales.
The motivation for seeking to replace the image of the whale was rooted more in a desire to maintain domestic tranquility than in a fight over “naming rights” to sports teams, however. It’s well known that the occurrence of obesity among 19th century women was no more prominent than in logging camps, where the phrase, “Eats like a lumberjack” was applied to the women who did the cooking. In what has become known as “The Two-by-Four Compromise,” a figure of a badger was substituted for the whale. Curiously, the flag carries no depiction representing a logger; or does it? In the parlance of the day, someone avoiding an issue was compared to a badger scurrying into its burrow. Meeting minutes from early legislative committee hearings suggest that the logging interests were satisfied in not having to convince their wives that the whale on the flag wasn’t a furtive reference to their figures.
– Gary Tefft – Menomonee Falls, WI May 27, 2016
LSWWS comments: Thanks for the history, Gary!
May 27, 2016
Memorial Day Weekend Best for Great Lakes Whale Watching
There has been an explosion in the population of Great Lakes whales in Lake Michigan. Once, nearly driven to extinction from over-harvesting by the whaling industry in the mid-1800’s, the numbers of the inland cetaceans have seen a dramatic increase in recent years. So much so that it has set off a corollary boom in the popular whale watching cruise boat fleet, which enjoyed full occupancy on most of its vessels and waiting lists for bookings this coming weekend, according to tour boat operators in Wisconsin and western Michigan port cities.
The reason for what marine biologists have termed an “exponential increase,” has been identified as an unintended consequence of moving the Memorial Day holiday from its traditional date of May 30th to the last Monday in May, in order to ensure a 3-day weekend. The annual Spring rut of Great Lakes whales was known to 19th century whalers to coincide with the end of May holiday. Extending estrus to three days has naturally had the results we are now seeing in the population.
The phenomenon has not been witnessed on any other of the Great Lakes, presumably because Lake Michigan is the only one of the five lakes that doesn’t straddle the border with Canada. Since Memorial Day is uniquely a U.S. holiday, the impact on the breeding season has been neutralized by interbreeding between U.S. and Canadian whales in those waters.
– Gary Tefft – Menomonee Falls, WI May 27, 2016
LSWWS comments: Brilliant scientific observations from an observer on a sister great lake.
February 15, 2016
Cold Water Jelly Fish
This jelly was seen digesting a dock near Grand Marais MN.
LSWWS comments: Way to capture the beast in action, David!
December 2, 2015
I’m a believer
LSWWS comments: We believe you, Bob.
August 28, 2015
Excellent Viewing 1st Week of September!
The fall freshwater whale migration patterns are expected to change and move much closer shore due to this lunar phenomena. Viewing is expected to be exceptional the first week of September.
LSWWS comments: We love a good whale watching forecast!