October 17, 2017

Humpback Whale on the Westside of San Juan Island

Humpback Whale

[Naturalist Sarah – 10/16/2017 – M/V Sea Lion – 12:00pm]

Yesterday was a great day out on the water enjoying the beautiful scenery and wildlife of the San Juan Islands. We started the day by heading south through San Juan Channel from Friday Harbor.

Just south of Griffin Bay we found some Steller’s sea lions feeding on chum salmon. We watched the large pinnipeds shaking the fish and ripping them apart above the surface. In the turbulent water we also got great looks at harbor porpoises cruising in small groups.

Captain Brian steered the M/V Sea Lion around Cattle Point and out into Haro Strait. We had amazing views of the Olympic Peninsula and of the sweeping cloudscapes across the Straits. Just off of Lime Kiln State Park on the west side of San Juan Island we encountered a group of Dall’s porpoise that briefly played in our wake. Our guests often describe these large bodied, black and white porpoises as mini-orcas. They are super quick and super fun to watch! The porpoises travelled with us for a few minutes before peeling away from the boat.

We pressed further north towards a reported humpback whale. We found the beautiful animal just north of Kelp Reef. The whale was following the topographical lines of Haro Strait, taking average dive times of about six minutes. Each time the whale came up we shut down the boat, and you could hear the exhalations of the massive mammal. By looking at the shape and markings on the whale’s tail flukes we were able to determine that we had the whale identified as MMX0007, affectionately known as “Bond” in the whale watch community.After a great encounter with the whale we headed North around San Juan Island to complete our circumnavigation of the island!

Please enjoy some photos from the day!