June 17, 2022

Successfull Search for Humpbacks & A Bald Eagle Frenzy

Humpback Tail Fluke

Kelly | M/V Kestrel | 6.16.21 | 10:00am |
When we left the dock on the M/V Kestrel there was a whopping total of 0 whale reports. This is not completely unusual for our 10am departure time. This early, there are only a small number of whale watch boats out on the water searching for wildlife. Captain Michael and I decided to head north toward Saturna island. In the past few days this area has been a consistent hot spot for humpback whales, so we figured it was our best bet.
On our way north, we made a pit stop at flattop island. This island a favored haul out site for our abundant harbor Seals. Pulling up to the island, we scanned the area for those distinctive sausage-like bodies. Not a SINGLE harbor seal was sunbathing at this usual hot spot. Captain Michael and I exchanged a few confused glances. We quickly realized that this was due to the incredibly low tide we’ve been experiencing. As the tide pulls further out it exposes a more cliff-like shoreline, making it impossible for our harbor seals to pull there bodies up out of the water and onto the rocks. However, what this island lacked in Harbor seals, it made up for in bald eagles! Numerous bald eagles flew overhead circling a carcass (most likely a young harbor seal). The carcass was being devoured by two Juvenile bald eagles on the shoreline- a true a national geographic moment! The carcass was a brilliant red contrasting the grey toned shoreline, the two juveniles flapped their wings and violently pulled it apart.
After that exciting pit stop, we continued our journey north toward that humpback hotspot. We slowed the boat in Plumper Sound, the body of water between south Pender Island and Saturna Island. We stopped to scan the area, encouraging guest to keep their head on a swivel. The water was so clam and glassy it was mirroring the sky above, Saturna Island was half veiled in a strip of fog. A truly quintessential PNW scene.
We slowly started moving south-east down the island, and again, encouraging guests to help us scan the water, but no signs yet of that distinctive 15-20 blow or tail fluke. Just as we had moved about halfway down the island, I spotted something large and white out the corner of my eye… simultaneously guests at the front of the boat stood up and pointed to the left. It was none other than the distinctive blow from a humpback whale! Just after that first blow dissipated, another shot up from the water surface. Two humpbacks were traveling together! Everyone on boat was audibly excited about our lucky find, including myself. Captain Michael was careful to slowly turn the boat around and head over to their location, of course, always sure to keep a respectful 100-yard distance. We watched in awe as the couple surfaced in unison, showing off those impressive 18-foot tail flukes before embarking on a longer dive. Expecting the pair to surface again on our port side along the shoreline, we waited. After about 5 minutes of waiting, the pair surfaced right off our starboard side at about 1pm! Captain Michael shut the engine off, and we watched the two pass by. Seeing that massive tail fluke so close to our small vessel was truly breathtaking!
This is tour was filled with highlights! I love that every day out on the water is so different from the next. thanks to everyone that joined us on this incredible adventure tour.