September 19, 2019

Tiny Humpback and a Lovely Orca Surprise!

Jordan | M/V Kestrel | 09/19/19 | 11:00am

What an incredible day!

Captain Gabe and I took the Kestrel out into the foggy depths of the San Juan channel and up towards the north. We could hardly see the outline of Spedien Island as we approached!

We boated near the island and found hundreds of exotic animals! I’ve literally never seen so many mouflon sheep, sika deer and fallow deer all grazing together in huge herds! There were groups of huge male sika deer with antlers wandering about the hillsides and a few babies sticking close to their mothers.

Along the shoreline we also spotted harbor seals! These cuties basked in the foggy morning light, trying to avoid the cold water for as long as possible.

Then we continued up across Boundary Pass and into Canadian waters. We stopped near Moresby Island and searched for any signs of wildlife.

Just as we were about to leave, some of my guests spotted a whale! It was a humpback whale! The tiniest humpback whale I’ve ever seen, swimming around by itself! It swam and dove as it sporadically chased after fish. The area must have had a plentiful array of fish because the whale seemed super excited as it speedily swam in circles. As a baleen whale, he was going after very tiny prey: plankton, krill, and small bait fish.

As he swam about, he even showed us his little fluke as he took a deeper dive beneath the surface! We spotted some white splotches on his tail which contribute to his distinctive fluke! Every humpback has a tail as unique as a human thumbprint.

Since we were the only ones with this adorable whale, we waited until other whale watching boats could get to the scene. As a whale watching community, we love to share our findings!

Eventually we left the area and started to head back towards the harbor.

Then, something unexpected happened!

As we entered the San Juan Channel, we saw a couple private boats staring at something. Curious, we asked them what they saw. Orca whales!

We found orcas! We watched as two killer whales travelled close to the island searching for harbor seals. One of them was a huge male, with a towering dorsal fin. We identified him as T19B! Aka “Mr. Floppy Fin!” He is one of the largest males in the entire Salish sea! How did we get so lucky?

He was swimming with his mother as they explored the area. Then, they suddenly appeared really close to our boat! We shut off our engine and let the whales approach. You could really appreciate the true size of the whales as we watched them powerfully swim by. Then, the huge male spyhopped! He seemed to be looking right at us as his huge head popped up out of the water! So amazing.

Then, we were going to leave, but then spotted the other two family members of the pod near Speiden! So, we boated over and checked out another huge male and the grandmother of the group!

The four whales will most likely meet up soon to travel together as a family as they search for more food!

Eventually, we made it back to the harbor. But, wow! What a fantastic day!