July 17, 2021

2 Humpback Whales near Stewart Island

Humpback Whale surfacing for air

Haleigh | M/V Sea Lion | July 17, 2021 | 2:00pm


Today’s conditions were pretty perfect. We set out on the water traveling northbound through San Juan Channel. Earlier reports of two unidentified Humpback Whales heading along the west side of San Juan Island through Haro Strait meant it was a race against the clock to reach them before they crossed over the Canadian Border. We zoomed by Spieden Island, watch as nonnative Mouflon sheep, Sika deer, and Fallow deer scampered across the dry terrain. Up and around Stewart island we went, greeted by some harbor porpoise, before finally laying eyes on some tall exhales. We had spotted our Humpback Whales just in time! Slowly shifting into position, we watched their enormous bodies surface through the water. They came up to breathe a few times before showing off their fluke as they turned vertically to dive down again in search of small schooling fish. We watched from afar as they surfaced again, this time crossing over to Canadian waters. From the border, their exhales and bodies grew smaller as they popped up further away from us. Though it was a short encounter with these Humpbacks, it left us plenty of time to search for other wildlife.


Looping around the North end of Stewart island showed us a forested side to search for Bald Eagles. We saw one soar overhead and into the trees, disappearing as quickly as it appeared. Traveling inter-island around Stewart, we saw tons of harbor seals hauled out in the calm, rocky inlet. Turning another corner helped us find 50 more harbor seals. We remained in these calm waters as long as we could before looping back to the South side of Spieden island, traveling down San Juan Channel and returning to Friday harbor. A short and sweet trip to find a Humpback and view the beautiful northern islands made this a trip well worth it!