May 21, 2017

Breaching Humpback North of San Juan Islands

Humpback Whale

Today was a great day on the M/V Kestrel, full of fun learning experiences for both the guests and myself.  We had reports of humpback whales just off of East Point in the Strait of Georgia.  We sped up that way in a quick effort to get to the sighting.  We quickly reached the whales and watched as a humpback mom and juvenile pair surfaced slowly in, what appeared to be, no directional pattern.  We continued to watch as the pair went through dive sequences and showed off their tail flukes in the process.  We were sitting patiently after the whales had just went down on a dive when all of a sudden the adult female, a 45-ton animal, leapt out of the water in an acrobatic display!  This was completely unexpected and an absolute treat for all of us on board.  We continued to watch the whales for a bit longer and got a bit distracted by an interesting optical phenomenon.  One of our guests noticed a rainbow circled around the sun, which none of us on board had ever seen before and didn’t know how this visual display was happening.  After some investigation I have discovered that this illusion is known as a 22-degree halo.  This halo is created by very small ice crystals that reside in high cirrostratus clouds, which if the sunlight hits them at a 22-degree angle, creates the reflection causing a rainbow to appear around the sun.  We then headed over to some bluffs where we found a Peregrine falcon perched, a first for me!  I knew that they are the fastest bird, clocked at 69 mph, but one of our bird enthusiast guests taught me that these birds are able to dive at over 200 mph.  After we all saw the falcon I decided to tests our guest’s bravery with some bull kelp tasting.  I’d say about half were up for the challenge but all enjoyed learning about the amazing plant that is bull kelp.  All in all, a great day where everyone walked away learning something new!