July 13, 2020

Humpback and Minke Whales ZigZag the Sunny Salish Sea

Humpback Whale Feeding near San Juan Island

Olivia | M/V Kestrel | July 13th, 2020 | 11:00 Charter

Baleen whales in the sunshine, how neat is that!? Captain Brian and I started our private charter by heading south through San Juan Channel, briefly stopping in Cattle Pass to scout for Harbor Porpoise, and eventually dipping down into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Shortly after nearing Salmon Bank, a shallow area of the large waterway, we found an elusive Humpback Whale! This whale was initially averaging dives of around 7-minutes and taking only one breath in between before zig zagging under the water again. While this makes it harder for us to gage where the solo giant would appear, it was also a friendly reminder of the freedom these wild animals hold.

This Humpback Whale eventually went from 7-minute dives to 5-minutes, and eventually down to 2-minute dives with multiple breaths. We were even able to see the direction it was swimming underneath the water by its footprints! This happens when they swim just beneath the surface and the water is undulated up and down with that long tail.

After watching this whale travel and feed in the calm waters of the sunny Salish Sea, we headed further south towards the Olympic Mountain Range in search of more whales. To our surprise, we found lunge feeding Minke Whales! This was my first Minke Whale sighting of the season and they were circling near our boat feeding on all the visible bait balls. We decided to shut the engine off to watch and listen to these incredible marine mammals. Our zodiac was perfectly pointed at Mt. Rainier- flawlessly standing tall on the horizon for all to see.

We also found a lost Harbor Seal pup floating around about 8 miles south of Cattle Point Lighthouse. While an adorable surprise, it was a bit concerning to see this abnormality. Not only was this trip warm and sunny, we were able to spend our morning with feeding Baleen Whales, a great sign of the lush productivity our waters provide.