July 29, 2020

Minke Whales Lunge Feeding at Hein Bank

Minke Whales Lunge Feeding

Olivia | M/V Kestrel | July 29th, 2020 | 14:00

We started off our Wednesday Adventure Trip by setting out on a scan through our Salish Sea waters. Being part of the Pacific Whale Watch Association, we are involved in a community that holds no secrets. That means, everyone involved in the PWWA divides and covers as many corners of the Salish Sea as possible and reports in what whales or other crazy wildlife has been spotted. This not only helps our guests view cetaceans, but also helps us gather data and records of the populations traveling through these productive waters. This allows us to do what we can to better educate the public and keep an eye on safety surrounding this wildlife.

That being said, we headed south through San Juan Channel and Cattle Pass, stopping at Whale Rocks to view Steller’s Sea Lions and Harbor Seals hauled out. These Sea Lions were extremely vocal by burping and bellowing across the water. Cormorants perched up above them drying out their wings, gulls laughed at the Sea Lion belches, and Mount Baker stared down at all of us.

We drifted south towards Hein Bank and found Minke Whales lunge feeding among the bait balls in the shallow bed of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. After watching their sickle shaped dorsal fins appear all around out boat and the occasional lunge feed revealing their rostrum, we decided to scan northwest up Haro Strait. It was pristine in the calm, glassy, sun-soaked waters as we drove up the west side of San Juan Island.

Reaching the top of the island, we shifted through Spieden Channel to glance up at the Mouflon Sheep roaming the hillside. To our humble surprise, we found a new Bald Eagle nest we did not know was there/ active, as well as the juvenile flapping around it. Not only that, but two adult Bald Eagles stood proud on the surrounding trees.

We paid one final stop just north of Flattop Island in Boundary Pass where we shut down the engines in the gleaming pacific waters, scanning for any cetaceans passing through. Low and behold, we saw heaps of our smallest one- Harbor Porpoise! They were swimming all around our zodiac, the chocolate chip dorsal fins piercing the ripple-less water. What an ideal dual cetacean and dual pinniped day we spent around San Juan Island.