June 19, 2018

Salmon Bank Beauty

Humpback whale tail while diving and feeding.

Jordan | June 18, 2018 | M/V Sea Lion | 5:30 sunset

We had such a great group of people today! Everyone was full of enthusiasm and eagerness to see wildlife. It felt like the first real day of summer; sitting on the boat by the dock, it was actually hot! The sun shone brightly as we headed out of Friday Harbor for our 5:30 sunset tour. Captain Gabe led us south through the San Juan channel, past Cattle Point and into the shallow waters of the Salmon Bank.

Along the way, we found a massive pod of harbor porpoises! Normally, porpoises travel in small groups of 4-5 animals, however, we spotted at least 50 porpoises all travelling together, popping up all over a huge expanse! We had to stop. It was so amazing to see all the tiny dorsal fins rolling across the surface of the water.

As we arrived near Salmon Bank, we found a humpback whale cruising along the edge of the shallow waters, saddling the underwater ledge of a huge drop-off!  On our chart, the whale followed the contour line that represented the immediate change from 50-foot shallow waters to 400-foot water! This vast difference causes an up-flow of nutrients and plankton from the deep depths up towards the top of the ridge. Thus, it was a great spot for a hungry whale to find some food! Then, we witnessed something amazing! A humpback breach! Followed by a series of tail slaps! It was quite spectacular.

As we headed back, the flooding currents caused rushing waters and large waves. And as we neared a small rocky island, we saw sealions having a great time playing in the water! These giant 12-foot-long massive animals were hurtling themselves out of the water jumping between waves and twirling in the air! It was fun to see these massive Stellar sealions slipping so elegantly through the sea.

So many amazing sights were seen today!