May 20, 2019

Trio of humpback whales

Erin | Monday, May 20, 2019 | M/V Sea Lion | 12:00 p.m.

Today was incredible. It began with some sightings of harbor seals as we departed from Friday Harbor. They were swimming through the water as we cruised past them. We travelled north toward President Channel, and we saw some harbor porpoises and harbor seals along the way. Everybody became quite good at spotting harbor porpoises as the trip went on. Their small, chocolate chip-shaped dorsal fins became stars of the show at certain points. 

We travelled north through President Channel toward East Point, as we did receive some reports of some large baleen whales in that area. At East Point, we got some awesome looks at Steller's sea lions swimming in the water around the rocks. They were rolling around and sticking their flippers out of the water as well. There were also about twenty harbor seals hauled out on the rocks. There were some light and dark ones resting. After watching them for a while, we travelled toward the southeastern side of Saturna Island and we saw some large blows, or exhalations, in the distance. 

As we got closer to the blows, we could tell that we were in the presence of some humpback whales! When we first started watching them, they were breathing a few times at the surface and going on dives, most likely searching for some food to eat. There were three humpback whales in the area, but they were not all associated with each other. One of the whales continued the original behavior we first saw it doing, and travelled while doing so. The two other whales were a mother and calf pair, and throughout the sighting, the calf became more surface active. It started to do some peduncle throws and flipper slaps, which was exciting for all of us to see. Soon, it was time for us to head back toward the harbor. The lone whale was identified as Windy, and the mother was identified as Slate! On our way back, we got some good looks at some harbor porpoises in President Channel. It was a lovely day in the Salish Sea. 

Naturalist Erin