July 7, 2018

Humpback melody

Captain Pete, naturalist Alexandria and myself and were taking off for our second trip of the day along with our joyful guests that were ready to be out on the water. We had heard some other boats had found a humpback on the West side of San Juan and were hoping to get a look at it on this trip. We headed up the San Juan Channel as the wind started to pick up and cause the waters to get a little choppy. As we rounded the northern tip of San Juan Island we were able to get a close look at Spieden Island to our right where we spotted a few harbor seals and eagles. We then headed for the Haro Strait down the West side of San Juan and continued west crossing the international waterway into the Canadian side. We were heading towards the North side of Vancouver Island when we saw a very tall spout in the distance. We patiently waited until it came up in the air again and we were able to confirm this was the humpback whale we had been looking for. From a distance, they don’t look so big, but these guys can get up to 50 feet, so it’s always such a different perspective when they surface closer to you! We headed towards that spout and waited around 8 minutes for the whale to take a breath again, and this time, it came up right on our port side and we were all able to observe its spout and tiny dorsal fin from only yards away. It was showing this type of behavior for a while, surfacing for air a couple of times then back down again; but still no fluke to be seen! We followed its pattern down the Haro Strait for quite a while keeping the animal on our port side and getting extremely excited every time it came up. After a while, as we were getting ready to peel off and see what else we could find, the whale surfaced again and showed us its fluke! Not only that, but we were also able to hear some of its feeding calls above the water! Hearing whale vocalizations is always such a treat! The fact that these guys (only the males) can even sing songs blows my mind! On the way home, we rounded the southern tip of San Juan Island and were able to encounter some Steller sea lions on Whale Rocks making this the cherry on top of our trip.

Mariana Malki, Naturalist, San Juan Safaris