June 1, 2022

A Humpback Whale and Honeycombed Sandstone

Lauren | M/V Kestrel | 6.1.2022 | 10:00 AM

Captain Eric and I were off the dock at 10:00 am today with our boat only half full… A post Memorial Day lull if you will? With an entire boat to themselves, our eight passengers still packed into the front of M/V Kestrel. The front of our zodiac proves to be the bumpiest spot during the ride. It seemed we had true adventures seekers on our hands, and we were excited to show them around the Salish Sea!

Our first stop was at Flattop Island to view some hauled-out harbor seals. These salt and pepper-colored seals are a master at camouflage, as they blend into the grey colored rocks perfectly. After hanging with these harbor seals, we sped up to South Pender Island to follow up on a report of a humpback whale. This humpback seemed to be sleeping before being awoken by a massive oil tanker heading down Boundary Pass. The Salish Sea is a huge shipping zone for British Columbia, and our guests got a first-hand look at what these whales are up against. We always fly our “Be Whale Wise” flag when on scene with whales. This helps alert other vessels that there are whales in the vicinity. Vessel strikes are a huge threat to slow moving baleen whales like humpbacks. San Juan Safaris strives to do everything we can to keep these whales protected. After getting some great looks at this traveling humpback we went on our way.  

Captain Eric took us to the east said of Saturna Island, where peregrine falcons have been known to nest in the honeycombed sandstone. Sandstone honeycombing is an erosion process that creates numerous small cavities that when seen together, appear to form a honeycomb pattern. When seawater is absorbed into permeable sandstone, evaporation causes expanding salt crystals to wedge sand grains apart. The remaining crevices make the perfect nesting site for many bird species. We were lucky enough to be able to not only witness this geological phenomenon, but we arrived just as a peregrine falcon swooped down to feed its chicks. What a wildlife filled Wednesday!