September 2, 2011

Slight chance of wind with heavy marine mammals predicted

The sun may have been shining today, but it was raining marine mammals!!! Shortly after leaving Friday Harbor and heading south we saw a large group of Harbor porpoise. We cut the engine and the miniature Cetaceans that are famously shy were all around the boat and even porpoising out of the water, exposing much of their flanks. Then once in Salmon Bank a Minke whale’s long back broke the surface and was soon followed by its small hooked dorsal fin.

As we entered Cattle Pass back toward the harbor, we received the exciting call that there were orcas beside Lopez. Captain Mike quickly maneuvered the boat in a 180 and we were back out into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Four to five orcas, one a juvenile, were seen cruising around the rocky outcrops near Iceberg Point. They were of the transient community with solid saddle patches and wide dorsal fins that angled further toward their posterior than the residents. We left them as they slowly started making their way north.

On our way back, we noticed that Whale Rocks were crowded with gigantic Steller sea lions and encircled by a few harbor seals. This happened to be not far, and in the same direction the transients were moving towards. We wondered if a pinnipede smorgasbord was in the making.

Kirsten, naturalist