May 21, 2018

Killer whales and Humpback Whales! A perfect day! [Friday, May 18, 2018]

Humpback whale in the San Juan Islands

[Sarah – 05/18/2018 – M/V Kestrel – 2:00pm]


Welcome home Captain Gabe! On Captain Gabe’s first trip of the season we had an amazing day! M/V Kestrel never fails to impress me with her range on a 3-4 hour trip. Friday’s afternoon Adventure Tour was a great example, just of what that boat can do.

We left the dock with no firm reports of whales in our area, by the time we were in the mouth of Friday Harbor a boat had called in… Orcas! We left the harbor cruising north through San Juan Channel. On the way to the reported whales, we stopped at Green Point on Spieden Island to check out some Steller’s sea lions that over-winter in the waters of the Salish Sea. Tzhese are the last couple of weeks when we expect to see these massive sea lions in our waters before they leave to migrate north to their breeding and pupping grounds in Alaska and British Columbia. While we were looking at the rocks, we realized that there was a second species of sea lion present, a California sea lion! Though we see them less commonly here in the San Juan Islands, these smaller-bodied sea lions can be found in our area year-round. We decided to leave the sea lions and continue on our push north.

The boats reporting orcas put them right in the neighborhood of Patos Island and Boundary Pass. The whales were super non-directional, swimming in circles in deep water. We quickly realized that we were looking the T100 matriline group, and family of roughly six individuals. I was super impressed by how much T100C, a sprouting male, has grown since the last time I saw him. He is starting to look more and more like an adult bull by the day.

During our orca encounter in the glassy waters of Boundary Pass, we heard about a pair of humpback whales just south of us in Rosario Strait. Gabe and I both agreed that it would be a shame to miss an opportunity to see more whales, so we pointed that way! We found the whales near Bird Rocks in the middle of the wide-open water. We got awesome looks at the magnificent animals as they travelled south. Looking at their dorsal fins and tail flukes, we were able to identify the two animals as BCX1210 “Slate” and BCX1193 “ZigZag.” It’s unusual, but not uncommon, to have these normally solitary whales traveling in pairs making this a pretty cool sighting!

Weaving our way back towards Friday Harbor, we couldn’t stop smiling… it had been an amazing day out on the water!

Filed by:

Captain, Lead Naturalist & Vessel Coordinator

Sarah M.



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