May 15, 2019

Humpback Whale in Rosario Strait!

Piper | Wednesday, May 15, 2019 | M/V Sea Lion | 12:00 PM

Today was another gloriously sunshine-y day in the Salish Sea and Captain Gabe and I headed out of Friday Harbor on the M/V Sea Lion with an awesome group of people and pointed the boat south into San Juan Channel. Shortly after rounding Turn Island we came up on some rocks which were dotted with some adorably fluffy harbor seals! These little guys were taking a moment to rest on the rocks in between searching the waters for their fishy prey.

We continued down the channel and made a left, following along the south side of Lopez Island, scanning the waters all the way. Arriving on the southwest corner of Lopez, just in front of Deception Pass, we spotted a giant humpback whale blow off our starboard side! We turned the boat to head that way and get a closer look, making sure to keep a respectful 100 yd distance from the behemoth.

This whale was doing lots of short deep dives, so we got to spy his fluke again and again, and one of our guests snapped an awesome photo, allowing us to identify the whale as “MMY0079” or Scratchy. We identify humpback whales primarily based on the pigmentation and scarring on their flukes. Scratchy gets her/his name from the rake marks on either side of their tail which likely came from a run-in with some Bigg’s killer whales.  At one point Scratchy was surfacing head-on with some harbor porpoises and “trumpeted” on one of its exhalations! He then apparently made an about face underwater because the next surfacing he was swimming the other way!

We watched for a bit longer and then departed, leaving the whale still outside of Deception Pass, and headed back the way we came. When we got to Cattle Pass we stopped at Whale Rocks and were able to see some Steller sea lions hauled out and getting nice in warm in the afternoon sun! After we got a good view and whiff of the sea lions we headed back to the marina, another awesome day on the water in the books!

Filed by:

Whale Watch Naturalist

Piper

Sea Lion

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