November 3, 2019

Humpbacks Wave Their Flukes at Friday Harbor!

Laura C. | M/V Sea Lion | 11/3/19 | 12:00pm

What an awesome day out on the water with Captain Pete!  M/V Sea Lion ventured north into the San Juan Channel on a clear sunny morning blanketed with crystal blue skies.  With only 10 passengers aboard, were able to move around our spacious vessel and appreciate the natural splendor of the surrounding islands in relaxed contentment.  Around the bend of Friday Harbor to the left I quickly spotted a bald eagle overlooking a madrone tree.  Pete turned our vessel towards that direction and as we slowed down our captain excitedly called out “Whale!”.  Two humpbacks were coming down San Juan Channel and headed right towards us!  It is always so exciting and surprising to see whales directly outside the harbor!  I joked that we could still see our ticket office from our whale encounter! 

Our pair of humpbacks were traveling very slowly and occasionally changed their direction of travel from north to south.  It did not seem like they were in a hurry to get to their destination, aka Hawaii for their annual migration, and were instead simply enjoying the nice weather.  Both whales were fluking on 4 ½-6 minute dives in graceful synchrony.  Since we did not have to venture far to experience our first marine mammal encounter, passengers were able to appreciate this humpback pair for quite a while before saying our goodbyes.

The wildlife journey continued north through the Cactus Islands and Flattop Island.  There, we were greeted by many harbor seals hauled out along the rocks and swimming around our vessel in the chilly seas.  The Cactus Islands housed about 6 bald eagles today!  A pair swooped down to the water and seemed to be engaged in some sort of dispute.  This gave us a glimpse of their aggressive personalities and ability to perform as a top predator in this area.  We even heard their calls which is always thrilling! 

Spieden Island was filled with animals today!  As we rounded the northern tip, we found another humpback!  This whale was a juvenile traveling solo while deep feeding and was quite tricky to see!  He/she surfaced for 1-2 breaths at a time and took longer dives around 8-9 minutes.  The travel pattern from this individual was more scattered and inconsistent.  Everyone enjoyed joining in to keep tabs on this sneaky leviathan and announcing when he/she came up for a breath!  Spieden Island also housed several pairs of bald eagles, harbor seals, and all the exotic land animals to see!  Mouflon sheep, fallow deer and sika deer spanned the western side of the island as they grazed and traveled amongst their herd communities.  We heard of a peregrine falcon in the area and scanned with binoculars but were unable to spot it.  It was still fun looking for it and seeing all the other animals the island supported today!  Our excursion was so much fun and filled with time among humpbacks, my favorite kind of day!