June 2, 2022

Humpback Hotspot

Kelly | M/V Kestrel | June 2nd, 2022 | 2:00pm
Today marked the first truly “warm” day on San Juan Island for the year 2022! Not ideal for standing around in our extra warm exposure suits… but delightful once we picked up speed and started cruising in our high-speed vessel.
First stop on this tour was a humpback just south of Saturna Island. The unmistakable 15–20-foot blow in the distance indicated the cetacean’s exact location. Guests were delighted to watch this impressive animal surface several times before showing us that distinctive tail fluke. This whale was quite the lazy fluker… just barely showing us his tail before diving under the surface. Due to his lazy fluking, no one had yet been able to identify this Humpback. All humpbacks have a distinctive tail or fluke that we use to identify individuals. Without a good look at the underside of that “footprint” tail, it can be challenging to figure out who’s who.

Next, we cruised over to the scenic South Pender Island shoreline. This island has the most stunning sandstone cliffs peppered with honeycombing. Sandstone honeycombing occurs when salt water is absorbed and trapped in the porous stone, it then forms salt crystals that over time separate the rock and form holes/cavities. Many bird species take advantage of these sandstone cavities as perfect nest basins. In one of these cavities, we spotted a Peregrine Falcon nest! The falcon chicks sat in the nest and appeared like two little grey puff balls.

This area proved to be a humpback hot spot! Just as we slowly made our way east, another blow in the distance! This whale surfaced a couple times more about 200 yards off our bow before throwing its tail up straight towards the sky, and then slowly descending into the water. This guy was NOT a lazy fluker! This excited the entire boat, including myself. It was truly one of the best looks I have ever had at that impressive 18-foot fluke. This whale was identified as “Orion”, a frequent Salish Sea summer visitor.

On our way back to Friday Harbor we weaved through Canadian islands, eventually crossing back over into US water and cruising down Spieden Islands barren southeast side. Love seeing Spieden island still clinging to its patches of green pasture before our summer season is in full swing. The San Juan islands are in what’s known as a rain shadow, we experience hardly any rain in our summer months. Soon, this island will turn from a lush green to a straw-like yellow.
Thank you to everyone who joined us on this wonderful Adventure Tour in the Salish Sea!