July 5, 2019

The Trifecta! Bigg's Killer Whales, Minke Whales, and Scratchy the Humpback!!

Piper | Friday, July 5, 2019 | M/V Kestrel | 3:00 PM

After a wonderful morning on the water the afternoon promised to be just as exciting, and it sure did deliver! Captain Gabe and I headed out again on the M/V Kestrel and the orcas that we traveled out to in the morning were now just south of Friday Harbor!

We pulled up to the T65As and watched as they traveled through the channel along the shores of Lopez Island. They took a couple moments to entertain the small toddler born just over a year ago. We saw a little spyhop and then an upside down spyhop, as the little baby slowly raised her tail into the air, waved it around, and then slid back under the surface!

They continued swimming and the calf was having to throw her little chin into the air to keep up with her family, like human toddlers have to run next to a slowly moving adult and it was adorable to watch her face pop out over and over! The orcas looked like they were really interested in whatever was causing a bait ball that they were swimming up on, but it appeared there was no luck for them if they were looking to score another meal, as they continued on south! After a few different “last looks” we finally pulled ourselves away from the awesome orcas to find some other wildlife!

We went south again and made our way to Salmon Bank to look for more Minke whales and Captain Gabe spotted one headed towards another bait ball! We got some more awesome looks with two different Minke whales, luckily without having to smell them, before heading south again because a report of a humpback whale had been picked up! It was only about 20 minutes away so we went down to see if we could see it!

Along our way we passed a “can”, a large marker with a bell that floats, anchored to the sea floor, these cans often have cormorants nested on them, and this one was no different in that respect, but we also got to see a couple Steller sea lions hauled out resting from a day likely spent hunting! It was a surprise to see these Steller’s because all of the known colonies have left the Salish Sea and headed up for Alaska for their breading season, so this was certainly a treat!

We kept going and soon arrived in the vicinity of the humpback whale! We saw the blows first and slowed our boat, creeping in, and getting to where we could see the blowholes and back of the whale as it continued surfacing, swimming southwest near Hein Bank. The whale gave us a lot of great looks before taking its deep dives, and when it dove we got to see awesome looks at the tail fluke! A guest got a photo of the tail and we were able to identify this whale as MMY0079 or Scratchy!

After some awesome views of this humpback we motored back towards Friday Harbor! A Trifecta of whales and some really cool wildlife, with guests spotting a bald eagle just outside the harbor, what a fantastic day!