August 16, 2020

Baleen Whales Take Over the San Juan Islands

Humpback Whale near San Juan Island

Olivia | M/V Kestrel | August 16th, 2020 | 14:00

Our entire Adventure Trip today was one unexpected moment after another! Heading inner island, we started the trip feeling a warm wind [it was the hottest day all summer, after all] and headed south through Rosario Strait. Scanning the blue waters, we suddenly spotted a baleen dorsal fin! Turns out, we had a solo Minke Whale lunge feeding through the bait balls. This was a first Minke Whale sighting for all our passengers which made it even more riveting to watch as it circled our boat varying between 100 and 200 yards away. We caught not only great views of its rostrum above the surface, but also whiffs through the boat- a reminder of how they earned the name “Stinky Minke”.

Continuing southwest towards Salmon Bank, we saw yet another baleen whale! This time it was one of our younger Humpbacks milling and traveling slowly south in the sunny waters. We watched for a while as he averaged three to four-minute dives and low tail flukes. While observing this Humpback Whale, we also noticed one more Minke Whale feeding in the same shallow bank south of San Juan Island.

After slowly drifting away, we continued up towards Whale Rocks to check out our favorite Steller’s Sea Lions face biting and burping not far from the Harbor Seals, when we saw ANOTHER Humpback Whale feeding near the kelp beds. This whale was much larger and averaging 10-minute dives. We gasped at the significantly larger size as the spout shot up in the sun-soaked water. Seeing four baleen whales today on top of many Pinnipeds while viewing the snow peaked Mount Baker gazing down at our sunny, 84-degree San Juan Island adventure, made for a picture perfect day.