November 17, 2018

Amazing Day with Humpback Whales and Orcas | 11/17/2018 | M/V Sea Lion | 12:00pm

[Sarah | 11/17/2018 | M/V Sea Lion | 12:00pm]

 

On Saturday we had a whirlwind of a trip that left the crew of the M/V Sea Lion giddy! This late in the season, both Captain Brian and I agreed that we had experienced one of our top two trips of the season.

Leaving Friday Harbor we pointed west towards the city of Victoria in British Columbia. Stopping briefly in Cattle Pass at the south end of San Juan Island, we were able to get a look at a group of Steller’s sea lions socializing and foraging in the water before continuing on our way. We had heard rumors of a group of humpback whales potentially in the area surrounding Constance Bank in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, so that seemed like a good place to start our search!

As we arrived at the given coordinates we found ourselves surrounded by probably a dozen humpback whales. The humongous animals’ exhales hung in the air above the water in the delicate afternoon sunlight. We were in the middle of a whale feeding frenzy. Above the water we had thousands of gulls and diving birds, and we could see the huge schools of fish below the water. As we watched the filter-feeding whales chowing-down on the forage fish, a call came over the radio… there was a group of orcas nearby!

Captain Brian started heading towards the reported orcas, but the water was so thick with humpback whales that it was slow going. Every time we tried to move the boat another whale would surface. Finally, we were able to adjust the boat’s position to see members of the Southern Resident community of orcas travelling and foraging. We quickly realized that we were looking at members of K-pod, one of three unique pods of salmon-eating orcas that can be seen in the Salish Sea. Everywhere you turned there were orcas and humpbacks spread out. We had an amazing encounter with all of the whales before needing to turn back towards San Juan Island.

K Pod
K Pod Sarah McCullagh