May 16, 2018

Humpback Mom and Calf Catch Some Rays and Some Much-Needed Rest

Wednesday, May 16 | M/V Sea Lion | 12:00 Noon

The M/V Sea Lion left Friday Harbor today and headed south into the glorious San Juan sunshine towards a report of two humpback whales near Salmon Bank, just off Cattle Point. Captain Pete, naturalist Rachel, myself, and our guests arrived on scene to find a giant humpback whale pectoral fin waving in the air! Humpback pectoral fins are up to 15 feet in length and we watched as this animal showed us its left pec, then its right pec, then both at once, just waving away. But then we saw more bits of whale, much smaller than the first—this was a mother-calf pair!!

This mom and its wee one just finished a nearly two-month migration from either Baja California or Hawaii and were taking these moments to get in a little R&R. Mom had been fasting the whole way up while at the same time nursing her new youngster and in the process she lost nearly a third of her body weight, but now that they are back in the nutritious waters of the Salish Sea, mom will be able to binge and gain back all that weight.

We watched this pair rest for quite a while before heading off to explore other wildlife gems. Today this included a bald eagle pair and their giant nest, as well as a haul-out of harbor seals that were pretending not to notice that they were sharing a rock with a colony of the largest species of sea lion in the world, Steller’s sea lions!

The warmth of the sun and gentle sway of the boat made for an incredibly beautiful cruise back into Friday Harbor this afternoon. Back on land typing this report, I’m wishing this tour could have gone on forever—it’s days like this that make me really appreciate how lucky I am to be living here, and to be sharing it with all of you!