May 29, 2021

Surprise Gray Whale Fluking Near Cattle Point Lighthouse

Gray Whale in Salish Sea

Olivia | M/V Osprey | May 29th, 2021 | 12:30pm

Kicking off Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend, we left the dock with Koma Kulshan (Mount Baker) standing tall on the blue horizon as the water below sparkled in the mid-morning sun. Captain Gabe decided to start our adventures south through San Juan Channel. With the glassy water laid out in front of us, it made our ventures easy to spot Harbor Porpoise surfacing for a warm breath of air. These chocolate chip dorsal fins really stand out on calm, sunny days here in the Salish Sea.

Passing Cattle Point Lighthouse, we bumped into the cooler, open air of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. We crossed near multiple bait balls- the bird feeding frenzies in and around Salmon Bank! We were seeing multiple Rhinoceros Auklets, Pigeon Guillemots, a variety of gulls, Cormorants, and Common Murres. In addition to these fan favorites, we also saw heaps of Pacific Loons and even an Arctic Loon!

Continuing further south, we approached Eastern Bank where we came across some Minke Whales! The smallest of all the ‘Great Whales’ are also known to be a bit slinky as they dodge around the contour of the shallow banks feeding on smaller bait fish utilizing those areas. We spent a while skipping around the boat calling out sightings, and eventually decided to continue our search back north towards the islands since we went a far way south.

We always remind our passengers to look around at the beautiful area around them as we travel along. While our crew is always scanning- the more eyes the better! This paid off in the last 30 minutes of our trip as we were heading back to Friday Harbor, when one of our passengers spotted a blow big atop the water! Slowing down, we decided to investigate this potential whale sighting, when low and behold- A GRAY WHALE! And not just any Gray Whale, but a FLUKING Gray Whale! This is such a signature Humpback Whale move, and not as expected for these slightly smaller baleen whales.

It was so beautiful catching last looks of a spouting, fluking ocean giant underneath Cattle Point Lighthouse, and even rotating where we caught glimpses with not only Koma Kulshan (Mount Baker) in the background, but also Tahoma (Mount Rainier) standing proud to the south. This cliché Pacific Northwest day was exactly what we needed to kick off the celebratory weekend and the continuing warmth of the Salish Sea sunshine.