September 13, 2019

Good Things Come In Threes! Triple Humpback Sightings Around Lopez Island!

Piper | Friday, September 13, 2019 | M/V Sea Lion | 12:00 PM

Captain Pete, naturalist Alexandria, and I headed out of Friday Harbor on the Sea Lion with an awesome group of people. We headed south into San Juan Channel and upon reaching Cattle Pass we had an awesome view of Cattle Point Lighthouse with the cloud-ringed Olympic Peninsula in the background, but our attention was drawn more towards the rock outcropping on the other side of the boat because there lied a haul-out of massive Steller’s sea lions! These sea lions were playing in the water, walking over the rocks on their mobile hind flippers, and literally making an up “roar”! What a sight!

We continued south just a bit further to where a humpback was surfacing near Mc Arthur Bank. This humpback whale was massive and was taking shallow dives so we didn’t see a fluke but the animal was still identified as the same whale that was there the day before, known as MMX0006 “Double Drop”!

We were with that humpback for a while before we heard reports of another, more active whale along the southeast tip of Lopez Island! We headed over there and along the way we spotted harbor porpoises popping up in the glassy waters around our boat, as well as a little harbor seal which we watched duck under the water off our bow!

When we reached the second humpback we watched as it traveled northeast along the shores of Lopez Island, moving along and once again not really taking deep dives. We couldn’t get an ID on this whale without the flukes but we watched it for a bit before yet another report came through the radio!

This report was of a gray whale farther up Rosario, it was called in by a non-whale-watching boat and when we arrived, we realized it wasn’t a gray whale, but in fact it was a third humpback whale! Three separate sightings in one trip! Unbelievable! We watched as this animal surfaced and were finally treated to a deep dive with a fluke in the air! We were able to identify this humpback as MMY0079 “Scratchy”!

Scratchy gets its name from the orca teeth marks on either end of its flukes, scars of a run-in with killer whales of which it lived to tell the tale! We got to see a couple flukes up from Scratchy before we had to keep going towards Friday Harbor, spotting more harbor porpoises and harbor seals along the way!  What an awesome time floating around in some veritable whale soup!