South Carolina

Whale spotted just off the Lowcountry coast. Here’s how experts know it was a humpback

A video taken by a Beaufort shrimp boat captain shows a humpback whale off the Lowcountry coast, according to marine wildlife experts.

Cameron Reaves, of Beaufort’s Sea Eagle Market, shot the video. He said he just happened to see the whale off the back of his boat, Palmetto Pride.

It was about 9:30 a.m., and Reaves and his two crew members were off the Lowcountry coast in the Bulls Bay area.

“At first we just saw the huge splash, then he breached way out the water. That’s when I got my phone,” Reaves said.

The whale — Reaves thinks it was just one — was about a quarter of a mile away from the boat.

Erin Weeks, spokesperson for the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, said SCDNR staff identified the whale as a humpback.

She said humpbacks are known for slapping the water with their flukes, or tails.

Humpback whales are migrating off the Southeast coast right now and were recently spotted off Myrtle Beach, according to Weeks.

Wildlife biologist Wayne McFee of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration agreed on the identification.

He said humpbacks are the only species with white on the bottom of their flukes.

The crew of Palmetto Pride had been at sea five days and were headed back to Beaufort when they were treated to the rare whale sighting. Reaves said the last time saw a whale was about two years ago off the coast of North Carolina.

“We always look this time of year just because they’re such an awesome animal to watch. They just always look like they’re enjoying life and are such a peaceful animal. .... It was an awesome sight.”

Humpbacks have white on the bottom of the flukes, or tails, marine experts say. This whale was spotted off the Lowcountry coast on Tuesday morning. Cameron Reaves from video
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