August 28, 2019

Amazing Feeding Humpback and Minke Near Lopez!!

Jordan | M/V Sea Lion | 08/28/19 | 1:30pm

What a great trip!

Captain Pete, Naturalist Laura and I headed out of Friday Harbor and south down through the San Juan Channel and out into open waters. We passed by Cattle Point lighthouse and towards the Olympic Peninsula, scanning the glassy water for any signs of whales.

We passed by harbor porpoises bursting through the water with their tiny fins and swarms of sea birds everywhere!

Suddenly, Captain Pete caught word of some whale activity back towards Lopez Island so we turned around and headed towards land. Then, we saw a blow!

It was a humpback whale! The huge animal emerged through the water and disappeared back under, on a mission. Then “ppppffffttt!!” an explosive blow emerged right behind us, shocking everyone and sending us running to the railing to see the humpback a mere 20 yards from the boat! Captain Pete immediately shut off the engine and we watched as the whale fed in circles around our boat! Amazing!

He hunted tiny prey animals as birds nearby looked over in interest and a few flew over to take advantage of the feeding frenzy. At one point we even caught a glimpse of the whale mouth itself as he fed really close to the surface!

We were so lucky to see multiple sightings back to back to back as the whale excitedly swam about. We were able to see his blubber in great detail and even his nostrils flaring!

Eventually, we boated away but immediately caught a glance at a minke whale swimming near the Salmon Bank! As one of the smallest baleen whales, the minke was also chasing the tiny food that was obviously prevalent in this area as its elusive black back vanished into a mass of birds.

Then, we continued back up north. We stopped by a rock filled with Steller sea lions! These 2,400-pound creatures sought refuge from the cold water and enjoyed the brilliantly sunny day. They napped and wandered the tiny island, perhaps dreaming of their next fishy meal.  

Finally, we made it back home feeling really lucky about this great whaleful day!