July 22, 2017

Hey, Humpback! Humpback Whale and Sea Otter Spotted in the Salish Sea

A humpback whale takes a deep dive in the Straight of Juan de Fuca

[7/22/17- M/V Sea Lion- Kelsey, Naturalist- 1:30PM]

To kick off the day, a drizzle of rain coated the island- some of the first rain in two months! Whoop! We were feeling refreshed as we departed Friday Harbor and San Juan Island in search of whales and other wildlife. Hopes were high and there was determination in our eyes. We were ready for whatever the day would bring us!

We turned south and went through Cattle Pass into the Haro Straight, and entering through the Straight of Juan de Fuca. It was a longer trip, but spirits were high, and the waters were very gracious and calm. Luckily, we saw harbor porpoise and bait balls with lots of various sea birds along the way to break up the trip. We entered Canadian waters and came upon Victoria, BC, and just shortly after, we arrived to the whale! It was a humpback whale!

Big and beautiful with many surfaces between breaths, this individual humpback whale was casually travelling west of the San Juans and Victoria. With such a long trip, we had a shorter time for viewing, but this whale made up for it! We got some amazing looks and fluke-out dives, and then suddenly, it arose on the other side of our boat, and started coming towards us! It steadily approached the boat, and it swam at a shallow depth, enough for us to see its face and barnacle-covered pectoral fins and flukes. The exhales were tremendously loud and close to us, and we got an amazing view at its massive 40-foot body below us. It slowly swam, rose, and then dipped back below the water’s surface several times near us, and then it moved past, surfacing again before taking a large dive and giving us a great look at its fluke. With that amazing look, we began to leave, and as we turned the boat we could see a sea otter peering back at us just by the boat! What?!? Such an amazing surprise!

Overall, the trip was well worth the wait! Surprise surfaces and surprise otter appearances made for an excellent day that can’t easily be topped.