July 25, 2021

Minke Whales and Baby Animals Everywhere!

Jordan | M/V Sea Lion | 07/25/2021 10:00am

What a lovely day out on the water.

Captain Pete and I headed south down the San Juan Channel and out towards open waters. We searched around the southern shores of Lopez Island looking in calm waters for any blows. Not finding anything just yet, we spread our search further south out into open waters.

We stopped by some rocks where we spotted Steller sea lions! These huge pinnipeds climbed up the steep rock face and barked at each other as they barred their teeth and let out their aggression. Causally sitting nearby were tiny harbor seals watching them with big beady eyes as they calmly sat by the waters edge.

Towards the Salmon Bank we began to see swarms of birds called “bait balls” and suddenly a Minke Whale appeared! The shimmery black back arched through the water with a crescent moon shaped dorsal fin trailing behind.

Minke’s are often erratic and hard to keep track of but we had at least two whales bobbing up and down lunge feeding amongst the chaos of the birds. It was so fun to watch as they fed and swam in circles as they followed the birds and large schools of fish. It was great to see all different species of the ecosystem interacting together.

We could even hear them breathing! Sometimes they would surface behind us but let out a huge exhale to let us know they were there.

Eventually we headed back towards the north where we stopped at Goose Island. Here, hundreds of birds roosted amongst the rockface. Cormorant nests piled high with sticks while the gulls had fledglings waddling around the island. I’ve never seen baby gulls before! I was extremely excited to see the gray puff balls following their parents and stumbling around.

Further down the island we even saw seal pups!! An adorable pup flopped around the shore right next to his mother.

What a gorgeous day to see such a large variety of wildlife!