July 24, 2020
Humpback Whale BCX0870 "Scoop" in Haro Strait
Sarah | 07/24/2020 | M/V Sea Lion | 12:30pm
Captain Pete and I left Friday Harbor on a beautiful summer day in search of whales around the San Juan Islands. We decided to head north towards calm seas, sunny skies, and a reported humpback whale.
As we rounded the north side of San Juan Island we headed out into Northern Haro Strait, and we started to see a blow, or whale exhale, in the distance! We had found our humpback whale! As we got a closer we got great looks at the whale’s dorsal fin, and even got some great looks at the animal’s enormous tail flukes. By looking at those unique features on humpback whales we can identify the individuals in our population. We were able to determine with our colleagues in the Pacific Whale Watch Association that we were looking at a well-known animal in our region BCX0870 “Scoop.” This whale has been identified as a female, either by showing up in our nutrient-rich, feeding grounds up here in the northern latitudes with a calf, or by showing off her belly. Female humpbacks have a structure that we call a hemispherical lobe, which we think is associated with lactation and nursing their calves. Male humpbacks do not have this structure. We had a great encounter with “Scoop” before leaving her to go out on the search for other wildlife.
We decided to head to Turn Point on Stuart Island for views of the lighthouse there. We got a beautiful view of the structure up on shore, but also of the beautiful kelp forest right off the point. Just around the corner, we found an adult bald eagle sitting in a Douglas fir on shore. As we exited Johns Pass towards the Catus Islands, we also got great looks at some harbor seals and even more bald eagles. As we motored back towards Friday harbor we got great looks at some harbor porpoises as well. It was an awesome day spent in the Salish Sea.