June 16, 2022

Humpbacks Near Saturna Island

June 16th, 2022

Abby Dahl

12:30pm Osprey

Gabe, Maxx, Helena and I took to the water as we wrestled the current coming out of Friday Harbor. Bald eagles sat perched in the tree tops at Friday Harbor Labs, and the water shimmered an emerald green. We stopped at Flattop Island on our cruise north, rumors of humpback whales in almost the same place we left them the day before; same individuals too.

We took photos and watched the harbor seals roll around the rocky shoreline, many of them most likely pregnant and about to give birth. Harbor seal pupping season is just around the corner!

We continued north and began to see exhalations from two individual humpback whales. We were seeing:

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

Orion (Juvenile, birth year unknown)

These two humpback whales were moving extraordinarily close to the shoreline… far closer than I had ever seen. The backdrop of Saturna Island contrasted the exhalations, making an excellent memory. Many guests on the bow were having their first experience with humpback whales, and some, their first experience all together. It is always thrilling as a naturalist to introduce guests to their first whale encounters. By far my favorite part of this job.

After leaving Divot and Orion, we went back to Flattop Island, as a report suggested an eagle eating a carcass. We arrived and found at least a half a dozen bald eagles, juveniles and adults, scavenging on a decent sized body. What a great way to observe the natural cycle of life and end a well-rounded trip. To commemorate it, I wrote a haiku in my journal:

Divot and Orion

Humpbacks by the rocky shore

Scavenging for more