August 12, 2018

Breaching Juvenile Humpback and "Exotic" California Orcas! | 7/21/18 | 10:00 AM

Piper | 7/21/18 | M/V Kestrel | 10:00 AM

Captain Gabe, myself, and an awesome group of guests left the dock in Friday Harbor this morning headed toward a report of a humpback whale near Cypress Island. We made our way over the top of Lopez Island, right through the heart of the San Juans and in no time at all we’d arrived at our destination. The humpback surfaced in the distance, giving us an idea of where we should look, and as we finished our slow approach we were shocked to see the whale breach right out of the water! We were able to tell pretty quickly from the size of the animal out of water that this was a juvenile humpback. While still impressive in size, it had not yet reached its full 45-foot adult length. In the next 20 minutes we were in awe as this juvie treated us to somewhere around 15 breaches as well as a few pec slaps as the whale rolled around just under the surface of the water!! What an amazing sight!

Even though this humpback was giving us an amazing show, we wanted to test our luck and see if we could find some orcas. We pointed down Rosario Strait and rounded the south side of Lopez and San Juan Islands toward Hein Bank. We were scanning the waters the whole way and just as we made it as far west as we could go, the radio piped up with some amazing news—there were orcas just south of us! In just 10 minutes we were arriving on scene with an incredible group of transient killer whales! They were the T99s, which are a group of four orcas, and two exotic transients from the California area: CA137 and CA40. The whales were travelling southeast and would come up for 5-6 breaths then dive for a good 5 minutes. Once while we were waiting in suspense for them to surface again we were shocked to hear a blow, turn toward it and see it was a minke whale and not one of the orcas we were watching! The trifecta! Humpbacks, orcas, and minkes all in one trip! How incredible! A few more breaths with the orcas and we made our way home with huge smiles and memories to last a lifetime.