July 30, 2013

Fog Can't Stop M/V Kittiwake From Seeing Humpbacks and Minke Whales!!

The crew and passengers aboard our original San Juan Safaris vessel, the M/V Kittiwake, braved the dense fog bank that awaited us at Cattle Pass in search of earlier reports of humpback whales. At certain points during the trip visibility was as low as 150 yds! Not to worry though, because Captain Jim wasn't going to let that get in the way of seeing humpbacks!

As we motored South, passengers were constantly on the look out for our baleen friends who have traveled great distances to get here. Humpback whales spend their winter months in tropical waters, where they go to breed, they then head north towards Alaska to feed in nutrient rich waters. Occasionally, we will get a few stragglers through the Salish Sea, who haven't quite made it to the nutrient rich waters of Alaska yet. This was the case today when we spotted not one but two humpback whales feeding off the southern edges of Hein Bank. It appeared that they were circling back and forth on the edges of the sea mount. Along the steep edges of Hein Bank, cold nutrient rich water will come up to the surface, which will create very nutrient rich water. Humpbacks thrive in this type of water since there is plenty of food for them to forage on. The repetitive behavior is most likely a result of the humpbacks foraging along the contours of Hein Bank.

After we followed the humpbacks for a bit it was time to leave and head back into the dense fog that sat about 2 miles offshore of San Juan Island. However, before we entered this twilight zone area we were able to sneak a peak at 3 Minke Whales! Not a bad day for whale watching! If anything, the fog just added to the excitement.


Caitlin, Naturalist- M/V Kittiwake, San Juan Safaris