October 17, 2017
Humpback Whale at Constance Bank - 10/12/2017
[Naturalist Sarah – 10/12/2017 – M/V Sea Lion – 12:00pm]
October continues to impress in the Salish Sea. Weather-wise we have come to expect rain in the morning clearing to beautiful, sweeping cloudscapes in the afternoon. Yesterday, Captain Mike and I steered the M/V Sea Lion south through San Juan Channel towards Haro Strait on the search for whales and wildlife.
We ventured out into the wide-open water of the straits on the Westside of the island. The water was wonderfully glassy and reflected the beautiful cloudscape. As we crossed the straits we were lucky enough to find the two species of porpoise that call our waters home. We first encountered Dall’s porpoise, a large bodied black and white species that is the fastest marine mammal in the world! We were lucky enough to see a small family group including some calves. A bit further west we found some foraging harbor porpoise. These small porpoise are some of the most common cetaceans in the Salish Sea.
We pushed farther out west towards Constance Bank, just south of Victoria. There we found a beautiful humpback whale following the topographic lines of the bank. The huge whale was probably feeding on a number of small forage or baitfish, fish that are the size of the palm of a human hand. As large as these mammals are, their throats are only the size of a grapefruit or softball, so they can’t eat anything bigger! We got great looks at the huge whale as it fluked up and dove. Captain Mike shut down the boat and we were able to hear the whale exhaling as it surfaced.
After a beautiful encounter with the whale we headed back towards the San Juan Islands. Across the Straits we saw baitballs and seals. As we made it into the interisland waters, we found a colony of Steller’s sea lions hauled out on Whale Rocks at the south end of San Juan Island.
Please enjoy some photos from the day!