July 6, 2019

Southern Resident Killer Whales and Minke Whales in the Strait of Juan de Fuca!

Erin | M/V Kestrel | 3:00 PM | Saturday, July 6, 2019

Our afternoon trip on Kestrel today was dream-like! We left Friday Harbor and headed south toward Cattle Point! Once we arrived at Cattle Point, we got a beautiful view of the lighthouse, and then we swung past Whale Rocks. There were harbor seals hauled out on Whale Rocks, and some of them were swimming around in the water. We also saw 4 Steller's sea lions swimming around in the water. They were swimming altogether, and we got to see them playing in the tidal currents around the rocks! We then headed south and spotted a Minke whale! It was diving often and surfacing in a completely different place every time, but at one point we spotted it right off the bow of our boat and we could see a lot of its rostrum. It surfaced right in the middle of a baitball, so it is possible that it was lungefeeding through some of the fish that were gathered near the surface of the water. We were fortunate to get such a good look at a Minke whale-that doesn't happen too often! 

After watching the Minke whale for a while, we headed northwest toward some Southern Resident killer whales that were in the area. The first whale we got to see was a member of K pod. His name is K21. We then started looking around us more and we realized that we were surrounded by whales! There were members of K pod and J pod in the area, and towards the end of our encounter with them, they were all heading offshore and appeared to be joining together. At one point, there was a group of approximately 10 whales socializing. They were tailslapping, breaching, and rolling at the surface. We got to see a big male breach several times. It was awe-inspiring! We also got an absolutely wonderful look at a male who appeared to be J27. It was such a wonderful evening of experiencing wildlife in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. It was truly an honor to be able to view the critically endangered Southern Residents from a respectful, responsible distance. Until next time! 

Naturalist Erin