See the TIPS below for suggestions in how to spot these wonderful mammals!
Each year I 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, please send your sightings in via email. I accept photos, too!
To report whale sightings and send whale photos ... ... ...
email Whale Watch
First edition Freshwater Whale Watching Society T-shirts available. Click for details!
October 12, 2014 - Still Looking
"Nina- I kept a close eye on the harbor and canal this year. Still no whales.
( I really thought the shirt would help too! )
Jeff & Sue, LaCrosse WI
Nina notes -> With the cool water temps in Lake Superior this summer, it's been an odd season.
September 14, 2014 - we saw them!
"A colleague took this shot on the Manitou Island ferry this weekend, heading back from North Manitou. My adviser thinks it was a female Megaptera boreas!"
Forestry Wildlife and Fisheries
Michigan State University
Nina notes -> Megaptera boreas aka Humpback whale
August 7, 2014 - Andy saw them! This Fresh Water Whale Watcher sighted one in his fabulous new t-shirt!
"Andy found a whale today in MN when we were paddleboarding so I thought I would share these fun photos. Enjoy! Andy claims he saw a whale in Lake Owwaso today. I would call him an official Fresh Water Whale Watcher." -Chrissy
July 4, 2014 - at the eastern edge of Lake Superior
"It's too damn cold. I bet the whales are all stacked by the Soo trying to stay warm. Water temps are still 38-42."
[note - Dale is referring to the locks at Sault Ste Marie separating Michigan and Ontario, pictured at right]
June 27, 2014 - location not given
"Pretty sure this was a whale."
June 23, 2014 - Split Rock Lighthouse
"While taking the typical tourist photos at split rock lighthouse wayside, my grandson saw two surface. Of course by the time I got the camera turned and zoomed out onto the lake they were long gone."
Jeff and Sue, La Crosse, WI
featuring super spotter Dameon
June 21, 2014 - Big Bay, northeast of Grand Marais
"We thought we saw something in the water, joked it was a whale . . . and then it was! We think it was by itself. It barely broke the surface, but we did get this shot."
April 3, 2014 - Brighton Beach near Duluth
"I thought you and your viewers of your fantastic website may find this photo interesting. I am guessing since the whales moved into Lake Superior a number of years ago it was only time before the bears followed."
Oct 20, 2013 - Duluth Harbor / St Louis Bay
"We spent our fall vacation camping at the marina just on the bayside of the bridge in Duluth. No north shore. ( whine, whine, snivel.) No whales spotted in the harbor for a week. I guess they are afraid to come through the canal. Better luck next spring?"
Jeff and Sue, La Crosse, WI
Oct 6, 2013 - Silver Bay Marina
"My three year old spotted a whale at the Silver Bay Marina"
October 3 2013 - Temperance River State Park [in Schroeder]
"Hi. We spotted this whale at Temperance River State Park. For size comparison, note the laker on the horizon...
Love your site" Dan D, Iowa
September 27 2013 - email
"I hate to break it to you but all the images of "whales" on the site are not actually whales. Whales can't live in fresh water. They are salt water animals. Coming from a person who has seen humpback and blue whales in the Pacific Ocean, they don't come close to the shore. They also don't look like the pictures on your site. Whales also don't "splash around". They breech every so often and mainly spout water. It's rare for most whales to even emerge from the water. 9love59
Nina responds :: " --> [2 articles on right]"
August 23 2013 - from Palisade Head
"I got him spouting. we were at the top of Palisdae head and my wife was picking some blueberries. I yelled and pointed and pretty soon everybody was watching him swim and spout." Jim P, Marshall,MN
August 7 2013 - Stoney Point Drive
"I zoomed waaaaay in and this is just when it was submerging again. Waited about 15 minutes but never saw it again. I love the North Shore!" Carolyn O, Pella, IA
July 18 2013 - from Mt Jo overlook
"It's a whale, right? Hope you post it! We stopped at the new overlook at Mount Josephine on the way to Grand Portage." Sally T, Naperville, IL
July 3 2013 - Near Tettegouche State Park
"See it right above the trees on the point? A little tto the right. Too cool. This is my 7th time up the shore, but 1st whale sighting!!" Diane S, Lakeville, MN
1st sighting of 2013
I think the late spring and cold temps have kept the whales off the north shore. But now they're back!
May 20 2013 - Grand Marais Harbor
"look what the wind blew in!" Jeff G, Fosston, MN
Past 2012 Sightings
Oct 5 2012 - east of Grand Marais
The crazy wind and dropping temps sent this fellow in close to shore." John O, Wisconsin
Aug 6, 2012 - Mt Josephone overlook near Grand Portage
"Check this out! I got a whale on video. Hope you can post it!"
M & S, Thunder Bay
Jul 3 2012 - near Cut Face Creek between Lutsen & Grand Marais
"whales" Vlad I, visiting
21 June 2012 - Beaver Bay
"We stopped at the bridge to check out the muddy water at the mouth of the Beaver River when a guy at the other end started pointing. Luckily I had my big zoom and got this picture. We saw these two just inside the mud line before the water got clear."
Linda O, Bemidji, MN
Jun 2 2012 - Silver Bay
"Saw the whales splashing, just couldn't get a better shot. How cool! And I took the picture from shore!!" Bibi P, Davenport, IA
May 1 2012 - Split Rock Lighthouse
"A pair of whales sneak up on visitors to Split Rock Lighthouse." Kevin Nelson, Monroe, WI
Nina's note - Don't you just want to yell, 'turn around!'
March 2012 - WOW!
Nina's note - this is a spectacular photo! Best of those submitted to date!
"Don't know if it's the early spring, the fact that the lake [Superior] didn't freeze over or something else; but we saw and - and got a great shot - of these two. Extra cool to see both the tail and the spout in one picture!"
J & S, Schroeder, MN
Past Sightings 2011
21 August 2011 - Isle Royale
"Here is another one, this whale can often be seen frolicking just under the surface, off Isle Royale.
Some skeptics claim that this is nothing but an old shipwreck, but experienced freshwater whale watchers know otherwise." Mark W., Wheeling, IL
20 August 2011
" I caught a glimpse of this whale just as she was submerging off Canal Park in Duluth."
Mark W., Wheeling, IL
19 August 2011 - South Shore Well this isn't the North Shore, but whales do have run of the lake after all. We were on the South Shore near Herbster, WI, when I snapped this picture of a tail with fluke visibly protruding from the water.
Let all the nay-sayers talk now! Danny S
2 April 2011
a different kind of sighting
I never saw whales when I grew up along Lake Superior, but I did see the Two Harbors chicken in Sedona Arizona this winter. Trying to warm up or just cross the road???"
Marla T. B., Sedona AZ
1 April 2011 - Whale Watching on the Great Lakes "While the possibility of Asian carp invading the Great Lakes continues to make news, another phenomenon of the inland seas receives little attention: the presence of whales in these freshwaters." Click above to read the rest of the article by Kath U. of St Clair, MI
24 Feb 2011 - undisclosed location "We awoke this morning to see this lovely whale at the edge of the shore!" Marissa, Minneapolis, MN
First Sighting of 2011
We have a first! The first sighting of 2011 and our first February sighting ever. Go Marissa! Last year's sightings will remain posted until the regular whale watching season begins. But send in your
sightings and pics any time.
Kadunce River "My husband and I were getting ready to hike up the Kadunce River in Hovland, along Hwy 61. I was standing on the bridge stretching and wondering about what I should bring on the hike when I saw some kind of waterspout out on the lake. I was asking my husband what he thought it could be, when three more water spouts went off, right in a row. Joel, who has spent time in the Pacific Northwest, recognized them to be the water spouts of whales! I was so amazed! What a thrill!"
Laura J., Afton, MN
BluBottle Bay "While kayaking on Lake Superior the other day, off the shore at BluBottle Bay, a whale leaped completely out of the water, suspended there for a second while the behemoth looked me over, then splashed back into the depths. Sorry I didn't have my camera out at the time."
Linda O, Grand Marais
Gooseberry "thought we'd see some color - didn't! didn't think we'd see whales - did!!!!" The Brewers, Farmington, MN
Duluth "Standing in the rose garden admiring the flowers when the crowd all rushed over towards the lake and there were three whales cavorting!"
Artist's Point Grand Marais "I understand this rock 'whale' can be seen here regularly" Daniel B, Duluth, MN
Tettegouche State Park "saw 3 by shovel's point, kept playing, didn't want to run for the camera and miss the show"
Mike, Waconia, MN
from Mount Jo overlook
received a call about whale sightings around the Susie Islands, near Grand Portage Viewing Tip :: all the sightings were from the Hwy 61 overlook - be sure to pull over at this wayside for excellent panoramic vistas and possible whale sightings
McQuade Harbor "We walked out on the new harbor - beautiful! - and there she was, swimming off the south breakwall! Thanks for posting my pic!!!!!!" Kathy A, Spooner, WI
location not given "On the last day of our trip, we had a chance to go out on a boat. I had planned on getting up early and heading back to a swamp I heard about hoping to see a moose. But my son was excited about going out on Lake Superior. So we were out there and it is amazing to see the shore from the lake but it was pretty cold, too. We'd been out awhile and were just turning back when waaaaay out on the horizon I saw a big splash. I didn't say anything at first because I wasn't sure if I'd seen anything. But then I saw it again except waaaay closer. I told the driver and he sped up and headed toward it telling us it was a whale. We saw it again then another, that he told us was a calf and a third one that he thought was a year old. It was awesome! It's really hard to get a picture, but I did get this one of the mother. Definitely the highlight of our trip!!!!! Better than a moose! Clyde, Atwater, MN
Silver Islet [NE of Thunder Bay, Ontario] "why no Canadian sightings we see them al the time" anonymous Nina responds :: no Canadians have sent me any sightings
Split Rock Lighthouse "THIS ROCKS WE SAW WHALES ALL DAY" Kim, Huxley, IA
n/a "WOW, there are no whales in lake Superior, its fresh water!, what bogus bull."
Nina responds :: you are absolutely correct - read the article to the right - this is all about fun!
Old Highway 61 "Here's my mid-summer report: the whale's are out in full force, it's the time of year when I can almost guarantee a sighting everyday. The late spring has made this the latest peak since I've been keeping track. When are you going to make t-shirts?! K&G, near Palmer's Landing
Bluefin Bay [Tofte] "I swear we saw spouting out in the lake when the fireworks blew up." anonymous
Split Rock Lighthouse "Look at this! We were in front of the lighthouse looking down and saw the whale swimming just under the surface." Renee, Virginia MN
North House Folk School [Grand Marais] "We took a break away from the crowds at the boat show down on the dock and you could see whales swimming by the harbor entrance. Fantastic!" Jean, Minneapolis MN
Flood Bay [just north of Two Harbors] "Nina- my wife snuck up and got this incredible close up of a basking pockmarked rock whale while walking the beach at Flood Bay." Sue and Jeff, LaCrosse, WI
Tofte Park "I thought you were full of s**t until today! Thar She Blows" anonymous
Silver Bay marina "Sunday was gorgeous and we stopped to walk around the marina and saw this boat speeding out and there were three whales spouting. Please post this so my friends know I'm not crazy." Carlson Family, Des Moines, IA
Palisade Head [part of Tettegouche State Park] "whales 3, deer too many, eagles 2, moose 0. be back in a month." AJ, Inver Gorve Heights, MN
from a charter fishing boat "I'm not going to tell you where we were fishing b/c we limited out on lake trout AND I got this picture." Todd & Sara, Ashland, WI
whales playing off Leif Erikson Park / Rose Garden in Duluth "we saw them! we were walking the lakewalk and you could see at least 2 but maybe more whales both splashing & blowing!" Leroy, Mora, MN
"Thar she blows! We were walking from Valentinis back to Canal Park and got to where the boat replica is and saw a big spout! I want a whale t-shirt." Mary, Maple Grove, MN
After a cold spring, the waters of Lake Superior are finally starting to creep up and that means the whales are back. Thanks to Jan for the email! "Finally! I've been out every day for the last week and today I was driving past Bluebird Landing on my way home from Duluth, and clear as ever, 3 whales were spouting. Am I the first to email this year?" Jan from Old Highway 61
** note Bluebird Landing is an old landing and dock area 13.8 miles northeast of Duluth, on Old Highway 61
We recommend climbing to a ridgeline with a pair of high power binoculars
(or telescope) and scanning what appears to be the edge of the
horizon. Since the whales travel in pods (or groups), you can
usually spot a great deal of spouting.
Are there really whales in Lake Superior?
hmmm . . .
should read this
article from the
or this article from Seiche, the MN Sea Grant newsletter