May 22, 2019

Four Humpbacks Fluking in Boundary Pass!

Piper | Wednesday, May 22, 2019 | M/V Sea Lion | 12:00 PM

This lovely Wednesday morning the M/V Sea Lion was crewed by Captain Gabe and I, and we carried a great group of people north into San Juan Channel to scan the waters for whales. We made our way into Boundary Pass and across the border into Canadian waters where a report of humpback whales came through! We arrived at Saturna Island and Java Islets and we spotted the blows of two humpbacks surfacing next to each other! We approached slowly and got to see some great views of the tail flukes of these humpbacks as they went down for some deep dives, swimming along the coast of Saturna Island. We were able to identify these whales as BCY0160 “Heather” and BCY0458 “Raptor”! Heather and Raptor are both female humpbacks who have been hanging out with each other in the Salish Sea during their summer feeding months for the last couple of years. Often we see whales in the Salish Sea develop extended partnerships with another humpback but we’ve noticed that in the event one of these whales has a calf during the winter, the two will separate. While the whales were on a long dive we even got to see a bald eagle and a few harbor seals resting on Java Islets.

We were moving east next to these animals and while we were doing that another humpback and her calf were swimming west towards us! This animal was Slate, or BCX1210, and once her and her calf got close to Heather and Raptor she decided to swim south into Boundary Pass while the two adult whales continued their heading east along the coast. The two groups didn’t seem to interact, at least not at the surface, but who knows what went on in the deep!

After we watched the mom and calf for a bit we pulled away and headed south again, back to US waters! We drove through John’s Pass and saw some more harbor seals before continuing on to Spieden Island where we spied (get it?) two Steller sea lions! After watching them swim in the bull kelp for a while we made our way home to Friday Harbor! Another great day out on the water!