July 25, 2022

A Humpback Whale Waves Hello in the Strait of Juan de Fuca!

Lauren | M/V Kestrel | 7/28/2022 | 10:00 AM

I’ve had a lot of epic whale encounters during my time working for San Juan Safaris, and today I was blessed with yet another first! What happened you may ask? Our 10:00 am Adventure Tour took a trip to a pectoral playground!  

M/V Kestrel started the morning by taking a right out of Friday Harbor and heading south down San Juan Channel. Before heading into the strait, we made a quick stop at Goose Island. Goose Island is known for its cormorant nesting sites and it’s also a great place to view pinnipeds! We took a gander at some hauled out harbor seals before heading on our way. As we transited towards Vancouver Island, we were lucky enough to witness multiple harbor porpoise surface in unison.  

What lead us to the Juan de Fuca was early morning reports of humpback whales. Apparently, it was humpbacks galore down there... The reports may have pointed us down here, but it was now our job to spot these whales! After scanning for some time, we saw a fluke in the distance off our bow. Then before we knew it there were three different humpback whales in our sight! Suddenly a whale surfaced off our starboard side, so close we that we had to cut the engines and let it pass by. While trying to process getting mugged by a 45-ton whale we hear a crash in the distance... A missed breach I presume? As we putter over that way; we see two pectoral fins break the surface of the water. A mom and calf pair were rolling around bringing their huge pectoral fins out of the water and smacking them on the surface. Fun fact: The pectoral fin of a humpback whale is 1/3 the length of their entire body!! This behavior continued for a solid 10 minutes before these humpbacks continued on their journey.  

We too continued on, fulfilled from such a brilliant experience. We made a quick stop at Race Rocks to view some Steller’s Sea Lions and ended up seeing a fourth humpback fluking in the distance. To top it off, we got looks at the critically endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales far off in the distance. Due to their endangered status and strict regulations, we always prioritize other whale sightings in the area, but it’s always a pleasure getting to see these special beings... even if it is from over a ½ mile away.