June 2, 2019

Stitch the Humpback near Saturna 06/02/19

Jordan | M/V Sea Lion | 06/02/19 | 12:00

Today Captain Erick and I took the Sea Lion out of Friday Harbor for a wonderful cruise around the islands. We, first, headed north through the San Juan Channel and passed the eastern tip of Speiden Island.

Then, we made a pitstop at Flattop Island! This beautiful national wildlife reserve hosted various birds flying overhead and a few harbor seals laying on the protected rocks. There was even one seal swimming gracefully through the water potentially trying to urge the others to either join him in the water or play.

Then we spotted a clump of pigeon guillemots perched on a rocky cliffside with their black and white bodies precariously positioned between the rocks. They were probably waiting for the perfect time of day to go hunting for fish.

Then we continued north past Waldron Island where we spotted some harbor porpoises! They made everyone super excited as their little bodies dove through the water.

Then we made it across Boundary Pass into Canadian waters right next to Saturna Island. Here we found humpback whales! We found two humpbacks diving and swimming throughout these deep waters. Their 45 foot bodies appearing at the surface as their powerful breathes made everyone on board hold their own breath in excitement. We were able to identify one of the humpbacks as “Stitch!”

Both these whales had tails that were predominantly black with a few scratches. But even with just a couple scratches, in combination with the different shapes, crevices and markings on the whale fluke, you can identify individual whales. This technique is how researchers and whale watching boats are able to track whales without invasive tagging.

Eventually we had to say goodbye to our beautiful whales and head back towards San Juan. However, we stopped by the lighthouse on Stuart Island at Turn Point and caught a gorgeous view of Mount Baker poking through the clouds.

We stopped by Speiden Island on the way back and some of us were lucky enough to glimpse a couple mouflon sheep disappearing into the forest!

Then, we saw two bald eagles soaring overhead. Most likely, they were a mated pair. And guess what, bald eagles mate for life!

Finally we made it back to Friday Harbor happy with a day full of great wildlife!