November 1, 2019
20+ Humpback Whales
Sarah | 11/01/2019 | M/V Sea Lion | 12:00pm
It was an amazing day on the water here in the Salish Sea. Captain Pete and I left the dock in Friday Harbor and decided to point south through San Juan Channel towards Cattle Pass on the search for whales.
On the way out of Cattle Pass we decided to stop at Whale Rocks to take a peek at some Steller’s sea lions hauled out enjoying some of this late fall sunshine. These huge sea lions are the largest in the world, with males topping out at about 12 feet long and 2,400 pounds. Steller’s sea lions are seasonal visitors to the Salish Sea, spending the fall, winter, and spring here in our waters. On our way past Salmon Bank we stopped to look at a bait ball aggregation of seabirds. We got great looks at several species including common murre, surf scoters, pelagic cormorants, glaucous-winged gulls, and rhinoceros auklets. We got to watch the birds foraging and even got a peek at some harbor seals in and amongst the birds.
We elected to head west towards Victoria, there had been some rumored whales in the area. We reached Constance Bank and suddenly we were surrounded by humpback whales. We had easily 20 whales in the area, feeding and traveling in small groups. We are able to identify each humpback as an individual just by looking at the underside of their tail flukes. We were able to identify two of the whales surrounding us as MMZ0006 “Slalom” and MMX0091 who doesn’t have a nickname. We got great looks at the whales against the Olympic Peninsula as well as against the Victoria waterfront.
After a great encounter with the whales we headed back towards Friday Harbor, enjoying the afternoon sun. There are no non-magical days in the San Juan Islands.