June 1, 2022

A Trio of Humpbacks in Boundary Pass

Maxx K. | M/V Osprey | 06/01/2022 | 12:30pm

    Humpback whales are just the coolest. Here in the Salish Sea we have a “Humpback Highway” of sorts; these massive 45 tonne animals will travel in through the Juan De Fuca and will often then take a hard left up and through the Haro Strait, through Boundary Pass and often again up and around towards the north. What truly blows my mind the most is that these animals will make this trek year after year, taking the same specific turns, returning to the same very waters after spending their winters thousands of miles away in the warm tropical waters of Hawaii and Mexico. Some of these whales will make this 3,000 mile journey in as quickly as a month! 

    Let's also consider that these animals are making this journey relying only on instinct. I mean, they're traveling 3,000 miles, through various conditions and sea-surface currents of the open pacific ocean to then arrive a tiny cluster of islands that randomly sprout up in the middle. I can barely make it to the grocery store unaided by GPS these days. 

    So when we are fortunate to see humpback whales out here, I’m not only impressed with the physical animal I'm seeing in front of me, but also the sheer coordination and innate intelligence that they display. 

Osprey got to hang out with three humpbacks today! The first whale was picked up off South Pender Island. It surfaced every several minutes before diving once again, likey lunging for krill or small schooling fish that congregated along the steep canyon walls below us. These whales must be starving! We can't forget that with all the effort it took for them to get here, they haven't eaten in months. Humpbacks do almost all of their feeding in the summer seasons and save their winters for socializing, reproduction and calving in the warm tropics. So these whales traveled thousands of miles on a near empty stomach. Woah. (I wonder if humpbacks ever experience hanger…) Color me impressed. 

We left humpback #1 after a few more surfacings before two more were spotted a few miles to our east. We slowly put-putted over, where two more whales surfaced, alerting us with their massive blows off our bow. When these whales break the surface of the water, they're only really exposing 15-ish feet of animal at any one time. So sometimes there's a whole 30+ feet of animal still below the surface! They are massive. 

We sat with these two individuals for a good while before we slowly turned away and began our journey back to Friday Harbor, passing Harbor Seals and dozens of Harbor Porpoises along the way. 

How lucky are we that we were able to soak in the presence of not one, but three Humpback whales?! I hope everyone had fun out there today, I sure did.