July 14, 2020

Humpback Whales and Southern Resident Killer Whales Swim the Sunny Strait of Juan de Fuca

SRKW Swim Strait of Juan de Fuca

Olivia | M/V Sea Lion | JUly 14, 2020 | 13:30

Every moment of our trip was a picture-perfect day out on the water. From the minute we left the dock we were graced with sharp views of Mount Baker [volcano] towering over the islands, a full bodied Mount Rainier [volcano] greeting us in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, as well as the entirety of the Olympic Mountain Range silhouetting the South.

We took a sneak peek at some Harbor Seals hauled out near Turn Island before spotting Harbor Porpoise swimming outside of Griffin Bay. After continuing South through the Strait of Juan de Fuca we boated down to Hein Bank where there were TWO Humpback Whales foraging together through the glassy seas. One of these two individuals was BCY0057, Niagara, a female with mostly black underneath her tail fluke. Averaging 4 to 5-minute dives, we watched as they fluked in unison multiple times; drips of salt water and sunshine cascading off as they fully submerged below the surface.

We decided to turn back towards San Juan Island in search of more whales. Sneaking up on Salmon Bank, we spotted our beloved black Dorsal Fins near the shoreline! Closer in towards South Beach lay an array of milling Southern Resident Killer Whales. It has been fantastic seeing them now for about a week and a half still in our waters, reminding Captain Sarah of the days when she first started working in the Salish Sea when their presence was an almost daily occurrence.

We spent time with the engine off watching, listening, observing them in their natural state chatting about the realization of how special this moment really was; how most people will go their entire lives never having the opportunity to see this unique ecotype. We had great chats in the warm sunshine about salmon restoration, the status on resident orcas, as well as how similar these animals really are to ourselves. I think this trip will be one of those days that stick with us for years to come.