June 2, 2021

Big Mama is my hero.

Humpback Whale

Big Mama is my hero. 

Maxx K. | M/V Kestrel | 06/02/2021 | 2:00


Today was a classic example of how spontaneous and serendipitous whale watching here in the San Juan Islands can be. We left the harbor without a concrete plan: whales hadn’t been spotted in US waters, or if they had, they had only just hopped the border and disappeared into Canada. 


With the guidance of Captain Brian, we turned north, heading up the San Juan Channel towards Boundary Pass. 

We stopped at Spieden Island which was absolutely poppin’ today! Almost immediately upon arrival we could see eagles. At least ten bald eagles circled what remained of either a deer or mouflon sheep lying on the cliff side below. Mature adults were first to eat while two obvious juveniles were forced to watch and wait a few meters away. 


As we continued circling the Island we were treated with three mouflon rams foraging on the rocks just a few feet above the water. While they looked so familiar, so reminiscent of a dall’s sheep typically found further north, they were new and non-native. These mouflon, along with the sitka and fallow deer that inhabited this island with them are what remained after they were introduced here decades ago. Spieden island is one of my locations here around the San Juans. It’s our very own mini Jurassic Park. 


We moved onward, further up Boundary Pass and into the Strait of Georgia searching and scanning for whales. At this point all we had was a hunch. 

The last few days, we’ve seen humpbacks here, straddling the US/Canadian border off Saturna Island so why not try again today?! 


We scanned for what felt like ages till we saw her: BCY0324 (Big Mama), fluking on the horizon. We slowly moved towards her as she zig zagged under the water, popping up on the port, then again on the starboard. We would often hear her first, the PLOOSH of an exhale alerting us to her position around the idling boat. 


We watched Big Mama for several more minutes before we began our trek home, in awe of the majesty we had just been graced with.