August 3, 2019

Minke Madness on Hein Bank!!

Minke Whales on Hein Bank!

Laura C. | 8/3/2019 | M/V Kittiwake | 11:00am

We all had an outstanding day on M/V Kittiwake!  With morning reports of minke whales feeding south of Cattle Point on Hein Bank, we anxiously headed south to check out the action!  On our way we stopped along some tiny islands to see some harbor seals and their pups!  These adorable animals were enjoying the sunshine and cool ocean temperature today!  Scanning the area above, we were excited to see a bald eagle perfectly perched over all the seals!  This eagle was stoically taking in his/her surroundings below and was potentially awaiting to scavenge a meal!

As we passed Cattle Point, we had beautiful views of the lighthouse overlooking the Salish Sea.  Immediately after, passengers noticed a plethora of pelagic bird species clustering in areas along the horizon line.  These birds are a great indication for mariners that there may be more action below the surface!  Birds follow bait balls from above and can actually see whales traveling under the water!  These avian trails help whale watchers find larger species like whales, dolphins and porpoises!

Minke whales were in abundance today and were surging through the surface as they fed on small schooling fish!  Throughout our large loop of the bank we saw 7-8 minke whales and hundreds of birds!  These whales may be a smaller set baleen whale but are still a huge mammal, reaching 10 tons in weight!!  When these whales surface we typically see the top 15% of their bodies, including a slick back and sickle-shaped dorsal fin.  Since these whales were amidst a feeding frenzy, we were able to appreciate their heads as they came up and had great views of their bodies!  One even corkscrewed, lifting a section of his/her fluke out of the water!  Some of these leviathans came right up close and personal to our vessel as they surged through the water!  The “ooohs” and “ahhhhs” of passengers were infectious and a great reaction to the exciting feeding activity at hand.  I must say out of several years of experience whale-watching, this was one of my top minke sightings to date!