July 26, 2019

Peduncle Throwing Humpbacks in the Strait of Georgia!

Jordan | M/V Kestrel | 07/26/19 | 3:00pm

Today was the best humpback day ever!!

It all started with Captain Gabe and I taking our vessel out of Friday Harbor and setting off north in hopes of finding some wildlife.

Before we even fully left the harbor, however, we spotted a gorgeous bald eagle! This massive bird sat perched in a towering tree overlooking the water. He surveyed the surrounding waters for any prey. Since they’re huge scavengers, they often steal from other birds. Right after we left, we saw the bald eagle leap from his tree and fly after a nearby seagull most likely to steal food from him!

We boated up through the San Juan Channel and towards Flattop Island just off the coast of Waldron Island. Here we found tons of harbor seals! And, I’m not joking, it was the best harbor seal sighting I’ve seen since I’ve been here! There were three pairs of mothers and pups flopping around the shoreline. One little baby was nursing his mother! It was so amazing to see motherhood in action! Wow. One of the other pups was fast asleep as mom lay protectively next to him. The other pup was flopping around mom and bothering her. She definitely looked like she wanted to jump in the water!

Right above all the seals was another bald eagle! However, this handsome bird was a juvenile, so instead of having bright white head plumage, he was covered in brown speckly feathers. He sat fanning his feathers in the sunlight so you could clearly see his true size.

Then, we headed further north across Boundary Pass and into Plumper Sound and up into a beautiful area called Georgeson Pass. Finally arriving in the Strait of Georgia we saw some boats out in the distance. We sped over and discovered whales!

In fact, we found two humpback whales and as we approached the site, one of the whales immediately breached completely out of the water! It happened so suddenly that I, personally, only saw the massive splash. But, so cool!

We watched these whales swim and dive and show us their 15-foot-wide tails! These flukes allowed us to identify the whales as Heather and Stitch! Suddenly, the whales decided to swim closer and closer to the boat! Captain Gabe shut off the engines as they approached as we listened to their explosive blows! Then, BOOM! Stitch threw his entire lower body out of the air! We call this a peduncle throw! Unbelievable! Then he did it again and again! He created huge splashes as he tossed his huge body against the surface of the water just a few yards from our boat!

Eventually we watched their tails disappear one last time against the backdrop of Mount Baker and headed back towards the harbor.

Wow. What a truly exciting day.