May 7, 2019

Gray-t Whales and "Steller" Sea Lions!

Piper | 05/07/2019 | M/V Sea Lion | 12:00 

Even though it's still early season, the sun shone today like a warm summer afternoon and the skies were so clear we could even see Mt Rainier as Captain Gabe and I led the M/V Sea Lion out of the marina, where we had an early bald eagle sighting, and south through San Juan Channel. After getting into the Strait of Juan de Fuca we headed east towards Whidbey Island where there had been whisperings of a gray whale feeding in the mud! It was a long haul but a beautiful ride over the flat waters.

As we approached the shore of Whidbey, just south of the Naval Air Station, we began to see a blow every minute or so, a sure sign that we'd found our whale! After a while though, we realized that guests were seeing two different blows and we had more than one whale here! For a while we watched as these gray whales surfaced and breathed, exhaling that giant tower of warm air and refilling their lungs before plunging to the depths again! After the whales went down on a long dive, filtering out shrimp from the sea floor, we saw that the two of them had moved farther north and were about to move alongisde them again when yet ANOTHER gray whale surfaced off our starboard side!! We were in the presence of not one or two but THREE gray whales! How awesome! I have only personally seen one other gray whale from our trips here out of Friday Harbor so this was incredibly special! We watched these guys for a bit longer, talking about their history as a species and their migration to Baja California before peeling away. 

On the trip back towards Friday Harbor we spotted a few sneaky harbor porpoises before coming up on the massive Steller sea lions which have been camped out on Whale Rocks for the winter and spring. We expect these guys to head off for Alaska here soon, but in the meantime we love watching them crawl around the rocks and roll around in the water, growling all the time! 

Afterwards we headed back up the channel to Friday Harbor! What a fantastic day on the Salish Sea!