April 12, 2021

Gray Whale Flukes in Salmon Bank

Gray Whale Up Close

Olivia | M/V Sea Lion | April 12th, 2021 | 13:00

What a clear day in the San Juan Islands! Not only could we see Koma Kulshan (Mount Baker) standing tall from the North Cascades, but we could also see Tahoma (Mount Rainier) to the south! You know it is a special day in the Salish Sea when both volcanoes are making an appearance. Starting off the trip, Captain Sarah took us south through San Juan Channel passing heaps of Rhinoceros Auklets. On the southern side of Salmon Bank, we spotted the first blows of a baleen whale! This baleen whale was none other than a Gray Whale benthic feeding in the shallow bank within the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

We were able to see many great views of this barnacle filled ocean giant as his breath gleamed in the sunshine. Not only were we able to talk lots about conservation and this ecotype of whale within these waters, but we were also able to see this whale FLUKE! Not just once either, but multiple times! Also utilizing these shallow waters to feed were a solo Harbor Seal checking us out and a solo Steller’s Sea Lion swimming within a small bait ball.

Slowly peeling away, we traveled past harlequin ducks, cormorants, and pigeon guillemots on our way to Whale Rocks. Hauled out on this small duo of islands, we were able to see multiple Steller’s Sea Lions hauled out thermoregulating in the sunshine and belching at one another between the water and the shoreline. It was a such a peaceful whale watching and wildlife trip in the San Juan Islands and a beautiful way to start the week!