July 1, 2022

Humpback "Fallen Knight" Sighting Outside of Friday Harbor

We began our journey today heading south down San Juan Channel. We observed some Harbor Seals hauled out along the shoreline of San Juan Island. These pinnipeds come in varying colors and can also frequently have speckles across their bodies. Not long afterwards we came across another pinniped that lives here in the Salish Sea, the Steller Sea Lion! Hauled up on Whale Rocks we found over a dozen of these mammals above the water line thermoregulating. This was a great way for us to observe how these two species of pinnipeds, the Harbor Seal and Steller Sea Lion, vary. Most notably, the Harbor Seal has a fused pelvis and so unlike the Steller these mammals really rely on the tidal changes to move above the waterline on our rocky shorelines. With a much more mobile pelvic floor and utilizing their front flippers, we observed the Stellers higher along Whale Rocks and much more vocal! 


At that point we received a report of a Humpback Whale located to the north up San Juan Channel so we promptly turned MV Kestrel and journeyed back to take a look. Fallen Knight (BCX0915), a 19 year old female humpback, was taking 4-10 minute dives just north of the entrance to Friday Harbor. We observed several gorgeous fluke dives as she traveled south. We discussed how exciting it is to be seeing individuals such as Fallen Knight return to these waters to feed every year. As a result of whaling, the humpback population across the globe decreased substantially by the start of the 20th century. There was not a single sighting of one of these baleen whales in the Salish Sea for most of the 1900s. As of spring 2022, over 800 individual humpbacks have been identified in the Salish Sea since 1997! Fallen Knight herself has returned with two of her own calves from her breeding grounds in Maui. 


We ended our adventure with a tour up into Boundary Pass and around Spieden Island, locating over five Bald Eagles!