September 28, 2019

A Magical Whale Day near San Juan Island

Bigg's Killer Whales in Boundary Pass Humpback Whale in Spieden Channel

Olivia | September 28th, 2019 | M/V Kestrel | 11:00am

Sadly, today was my last Kestrel trip of the season with Captain Gabe and we decided early on that it was going to be epic. Being one of the first boats out on the water, we often must travel into areas where there haven’t been other boats in order to find potential whale sightings. We heard of a Humpback Whale near Battleship Island north of Roche Harbor, but decided to go scope out waters elsewhere due to the amount of boats near that whale.

After stopping at White Rocks to see HEAPS of Harbor Seals, we aimed for Boundary Pass. Captain Gabe decided to veer off quickly to investigate a bait ball and it was a good idea, because far off our stern- WE FOUND FEEDING BIGG’S KILLER WHALES! This. Was. Epic. It is always exciting to be the first boat to find whales, and at lunchtime, nonetheless. We bailed on our bait ball and went to see a brand-new family group that neither of us have seen yet- the T35A’s traveling with T38A. We saw lunges, spy hops, moon walks, and even a little red as they were feeding, surrounded by many birds diving in on scraps. This was absolutely incredible, especially spending most of our time completely alone watching as they worked together.

By the time other boats arrived, we decided to head off in search of that Humpback Whale. We traveled through the Cactus Islands, seeing even more Harbor Seals, and around the northern side of Spieden Island where we counted about four Bald Eagles and two Turkey Vultures. Once we rounded the corner to the southern side, we spotted a Humpback Whale spout way off at our bow. We traveled towards it where it went on one of its deep dives, averaging about 5 to 7 minutes, and popped up even further on our bow! Therefore, we dipped our nose into the San Juan Channel and shut off the engine in anticipation for it to pop up somewhere even further away at the rate it was moving. To our startled but humbled surprise, this whale decided to mug us at our stern. We were able to watch four tail flukes and hear the roar of that exhale.

This was an absolutely magical way to end the season, giving both Captain Gabe and I butterflies and nothing but smiles with our 12 passengers. It’s a simple reminder of not only the beautiful people we get from around the world, but the wonder of the Salish Sea.