May 13, 2019

Humpback Mom and Calf! Whale Watching near San Juan Island

Humpback whale

Sarah | 05/13/2019 | M/V Sea Lion | 12:00pm

We had another amazing day in the Salish Sea today. I know that I say that every day, or at least every time I write a blog, but I’m serious… this is the coolest place ever! Today this ecosystem was truly a delight to explore and we had amazing views throughout the duration of our boat trip!

Captain Pete and I elected to head north today into the nutrient rich and productive waters of Boundary Pass and the Strait of Georgia. This area of the inland sea has just been ALIVE lately as the ample prey available has been attracting predators. In short, it seemed like a good place to start our search for wildlife today! On our way north we stopped to check out White Rock near Waldron Island where we found bald eagles and harbor seals! As we pushed further north we scanned into Boundary Pass for blows and dorsal fins, and turned up nothing so we continued north! After crossing the Canadian border we stopped at East Point on Saturna Island to check out some Steller’s sea lions hauled out on the rocks of boiling reef. These huge sea lions can grow to be over 12 feet long and weigh over 2,400 pounds, making them the largest sea lions in the world!

As we continued north a whale watch boat gave us a call over the radio, they had found a humpback whale and her calf just ahead of us! As we got on scene we saw the tall blow of the adult female cow and the shorter blow of the calf. For M/V Sea Lion, this was our first humpback calf encounter of the year! Watching the mother and baby surface we realized that we had a whale identified as BCX1210 “Slate.” Yesterday, this calf-cow pair was recorded west of Victoria in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, so overnight they travelled right around 40 miles to reach the Strait of Georgia! This is the first recorded calf to Slate, and previously we hadn’t even know her sex! With humpback whales it is difficult to tell males from females just based on surface observations. Until you see their bellies, or a female is traveling with a calf, it’s anyone’s guess on sex! We had a great encounter with the humpback whales before leaving them to go on the search for other wildlife.

We pointed for Friday Harbor, electing to take President’s Channel south between Waldron and Orcas Islands. The stretch of water hadn’t been covered by any whale watch boats yet today, so we kept our eyes peeled for anything in the water. On the way back towards home we got to enjoy the incredible sweeping scenery of the San Juan Islands. It was a lovely day spent on the water!

Filed by:

Captain, Lead Naturalist & Vessel Coordinator

Sarah M.

Sea Lion

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