April 23, 2021

Gray Whale Feeds nearby a Snoozing Sea Otter

Gray Whale Feeding in San Juan Islands

Olivia | M/V Sea Lion | April 23rd, 2021 | 13:00

Kicking off the weekend, Captain Pete decided to start the trip by heading inner island through Upright Passage, eventually turning south into Lopez Sound. Just off Coleville Island, we spotted a large spout as it shot above the surface of the water. This spout belonged to a Gray Whale that was feeding in about 80 feet of water. This baleen whale feeds on about 2,400 pounds of food every day during the summer feeding months here in the Salish Sea. Small amphipods, benthic- shrimp like creatures that live in the mud, make up 90 percent of their diet as they filter feed along the sea floor. You can even tell which side of their body is dominant (think of humans being left or right-handed!) by looking at whichever side has fewer barnacles from scraping along the bottom of the ocean. Just like us, there are primarily righties with a few lefties thrown in there!

We were not only lucky enough to watch this Gray Whale Fluke, but also [un]lucky enough to catch a big whiff of its breath! Think rotten fish and dirty socks. Yum! After viewing this ocean giant, we slowly drifted southwest behind Long Island where we saw a giant Bald Eagle’s nest before approaching Whale Rocks. At these small, rocky islands we immediately viewed a SEA OTTER! Rarely ever visiting our waters, this solo Sea Otter laying on its back was a humble surprise. We also had the pleasure of watching heaps of Steller’s Sea Lions belching, snoozing, and thermoregulating along the shoreline. The world’s largest sea lions will always be one of our favorite sights. Catching Cattle Point Lighthouse was a welcoming sight as we cruised back up San Juan Channel, ending our spring trip in the Salish Sea.