July 29, 2022

Minke Madness and Humpback at Salmon Bank

Elle | M/V Osprey | 7/29/2022 | 5:30 PM

This evening was full of baleen whales here in the Salish Sea! After travelling south past Cattle Point Lighthouse we settled our boat in shallow waters at the top of Salmon Bank. We were surrounded by birds at the surface, hunting the smaller fish below, in what’s known as a bait ball. These bait balls on top of Salmon Bank are a favorite hunting area for minke whales, a smaller baleen whale with a reputation for being elusive. After patiently waiting, we finally caught a surfacing! We spun the boat around to follow the whale’s circular hunting pattern. As we turned, our passengers caught sight of a second minke hunting! After watching this minke madness for a few minutes, we headed further out to see until we spotted a tall blow of air in the distance. It turned out to be a majestic humpback whale surfacing as it travelled along. We got some great looks at this forty-foot gentle giant. As we headed back towards San Juan Island, we came across a third minke whale! Both humpback and minke whales are baleen whales which means that they do not have teeth, but rather keratin plates which they use to trap hundreds of tiny fish in their mouth and force the water out as they take huge gulps of seawater. We wrapped up our trip with a great look at Steller’s sea lions on the rocks and in the water playing and fighting over territory. We enjoyed a lovely sunset on our way back into Friday Harbor to wrap up a great trip.