August 3, 2021

Humpback Pair Travel Down San Juan Channel!

Laura | M/V Osprey | 8/3/2021 | 5:30PM

Today was one of the best humpback encounters I have experienced in quite a while!   We left the dock headed northbound through San Juan Channel and it was only about 10 minutes before we spotted some blows!  A young boy named Oliver looked close to the shoreline and exclaimed to naturalist Haleigh that he just spotted a blow!  Our Captain Gabe instantly slowed the boat down and we patiently awaited our next leviathan sighting!  On the next surfacing we quickly identified two humpback whales traveling right next to each other, headed down San Jan Channel.  What luck!!  We announced on the radio for other whale-watching vessels to join, as this was the first whale sighting of the day!

One humpback was identified to be Split Fluke, a 2006 female offspring of a well-known female, Heather!  Split Fluke was traveling with a small juvenile who had a lot of white on his/her dorsal fin.  This second animal did not fluke or bring its tail up out of the water, a common thing not seen in younger individuals.  It was awesome to see the difference in size between these two whales as they moved through the channel, deep diving close to shore!  One of the first encounters was so close to our boat, as our engines were off and these whales continued to travel right towards us before going down on a dive!  It was amazing to see these large creatures gracefully moving towards Friday Harbor.  This is a sight that was almost unheard of 20 years ago before humpback whales started utilizing this portion of the Salish Sea as an annual feeding area. 

We had a large amount of time with these two humpbacks before saying goodbye and heading out to look for more wildlife.  We continued to Flattop Island and saw nesting sites for pigeon guillemots on the north side!  This is the first time I have seen them along the cliffs and diving down into the water, what a spectacular thing to see!  We topped off the trip viewing a bald eagle take flight from Gull Rocks to Flattop, after being chased around by some gulls.  Harbor seals trickled through the area and some pups were seen hauled out next to their moms on the rocks.  What a beautiful sunset trip, filled with wildlife and a gorgeous evening sky!