June 15, 2022

Humpback Whales in Canadian Waters

June 15th, 2022

Abby Dahl

2pm Kestrel

Captain Gabe and I zoomed north through San Juan Channel after our first glimpse of wildlife with guests; anemones and nudibranchs on the marina docks, my favorite! We had a report of two humpback whales off Saturna Island, so we started in that direction, scanning the area as we chugged along. Bald eagles posed in the tree line along our path, white heads appearing as golf balls amidst the dark backdrop of the forested shoreline. We stopped at Flattop Island for views of pigeon guillemots and harbor seals and again at White Rock where a bald eagle sat perched at the highest point, awaiting a meal.

We continued north to the report of humpbacks, cutting through Boundary Pass and some wild currents.

We were finally on scene with the humpbacks, guests cheering at every exhalation. The individuals we saw were:

Divot (Female, born in 2003 to “Big Mama”)

Orion (Juvenile, birth year unknown)

These two were moving far closer to the shoreline than I had ever seen in the islands. We had many beautiful fluke views and great sights of dorsal fins. The stoke level on Kestrel was high throughout the experience.

Upon leaving the scene, we cut back into Boundary Pass where we spotted numerous harbor porpoise. We even saw one breach, which was a first for me! We normally don’t do this because our harbor porpoise population is very shy, but we cut the engines and drifted through the current at about six miles per hour. We had harbor porpoise swim as close as 20 feet to the boat! They were definitely exhibiting hunting behavior as they zoomed through the water. Who knew that harbor porpoise could get the zoomies? That’s certainly what it looked like.

After viewing the harbor porpoise, we took a beautiful meandering ride through John’s Pass which sits between John’s Island and Stuart Island. In my opinion, that is one of the most beautiful places in all of the San Juan Islands, and was a fantastic way to wrap up a great trip.

Filed by:

Reservations/ Marine Naturalist

Abby

Kestrel

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