April 6, 2021
Grey Whale Feeds at the Feet of Koma Kulshan
Olivia | M/V Sea Lion | April 6th, 2021 | 13:00
We already knew it would be a great day out on the water with Mount Baker making an appearance on the horizon. Our active volcano in the North Cascades is referred to as “Koma Kulshan”, meaning white sentinel with a side missing and known for being the nesting place for the thunderbird! After dipping north through San Juan Channel, we eventually moved inland to creep our way closer towards Anacortes. Almost all the way there, we came across the same Grey Whale we watched just a week earlier feeding in roughly 30 feet of water!
These Grey Whales are baleen whales, meaning they filter feed using their baleen plates. Unlike Humpback Whales who gulp water to feed on small krill and fish, these Grey Whales scrape their bodies along the sea floor to feed on the benthic creatures within the mud. From there, they trap all the small food to swallow through their grapefruit sized throats and return to the surface for a breath. We spend all our time at the surface waiting for them to come take a big breath of air, that it is often crazy to think of the large whale scraping the sea floor beneath- unbeknownst to the rest of us.
While watching this whale, we unexpectedly had five Harbor Porpoise surface near our vessel, casually carrying on through the shallow banks looking for food of their own. What a cetacean filled day! Turning back inner island towards Friday Harbor, we were able to stop and view multiple Harbor Porpoise hauled out in their cliché banana pose building up their oxygen storage in preparation for longer dives of their own. Even cooler? We saw a Steller’s Sea Lion playing in the water nearby! This sunny, warm spring day was filled with many conversations of conservation, sustainability, and our human impact on the world while we breathed in the clean salty air and gazed in amazement at the Northern Cascades. It is safe to say this was one of the most soothing trips of the season leaving Captain Sarah and myself completely at ease.