September 24, 2019

Playful Humpback Whales Near Stuart Island!

Jordan | M/V Sea Lion | 09/24/19 | 12:00pm

It was so nice out on the water! It was super sunny and warm, and the blue skies brightened everyone’s day!

Captain Gabe and I took the Sea Lion out of Friday Harbor and headed north through the San Juan Channel.

Along the way we saw our first wildlife sighting: a bald eagle! It was soaring through the sky, elegantly flying with ease as it surveyed the area for fish before disappearing behind the trees.

We boated up towards Speiden and cruised along the northern coastline where we found some exotic animals! Mouflon sheep bounded between the trees and precariously wandered down the rocky cliffside towards the water to drink from freshwater springs.

We also spotted a few harbor seals bobbing in the water. Harbor seals often love lounging on land, but when the tides come up, a lot of their favorite rocky spots are inaccessible. So, they use that time to go fishing!

Then, we boated along the south side of Stuart Island and up towards Canadian waters! Here we found humpback whales! These two humpbacks where beautiful as they swam close together and fed in the bountiful waters. The whales even played with each other as one seemed to flop around on top of the other, showing us glimpses of his tail, belly, and even his head! We could see the numerous tubercles on his face that have tiny hairs protruding from them! So fun. Then, the other whale trumpeted at his companion, in annoyance. After that, they seemed to calm down and continued on their way.

We got some fantastic looks at both of their flukes. Upon examination, we figured out that they were in fact “Split Fin” and “Anvil.” Both whales had very white tails, while “Split Fin” had a distinctly split dorsal fin that almost looked like it was cut in half!

We watched them for a while, until it was time to leave. We headed back towards Speiden Island!

This time, we headed along the grassy southern side of the island and watched as herds of mouflon sheep, sika deer, and fallow deer grazed and played and chased each other around the hillsides. We even spotted an albino mouflon sheep! Very cool! The hills were the most vibrant green that I’ve ever seen on the island! Usually, during the summer, the grass is very dry and yellow. But watching the animals today was very picturesque.

Eventually, we headed back into the harbor but what a great day!