October 31, 2019

Two Humpback Whales in the Strait of Georgia

humpback whale

Sarah | 10/31/2019 | Happy Halloween! | M/V Sea Lion | 12:00pm

The sun was shining, the water was glassy, and Captain Pete, our guests, and I set out from Friday Harbor this afternoon. With absolutely amazing water in the Salish Sea to spot all manner of wildlife we were certainly excited go out an explore!

We decided to head north towards Flattop Island. Recently we have had awesome luck up in around this National Wildlife Refuge looking for wildlife. Today was no different, we got to see some harbor seals, as well as bald eagles on our stop at the island. As we worked our way further north we got to see several species of sea bird including common murres, pigeon guillemots, and western grebes, and then we were surrounded by harbor porpoise! We probably had about 150 of these small cetaceans within a square mile of the boat. We got great looks at the little creatures as they surfaced around us foraging. Usually harbor porpoise are quite shy, but when they get into large aggregations, they can be fairly bold! After great looks with the porpoise we elected to head even farther north towards the Strait of Georgia.

In the Strait of Georgia we found a pair of humpback whales lazily feeding and travelling. Usually humpback whales take what we call a breath set at the surface and then a longer deeper dive of 5-7 minutes. We spent about 30 minutes on scene with the whales and I think it’s safe to say that we had the whales on the surface for 25 of those minutes! As they surfaced we even got a chance to hear them breathe. It was an awesome encounter.

As we worked our way back south we stopped at Boiling Reef to check out some Steller’s sea lions, harbor seals, a bald eagle, and even our less common species of sea lions, a California sea lion! Even farther south we encountered another group of harbor porpoise. As we rounded Sandy Point on Waldron Island we got a call from a boat just to our south, they had found a minke whale feeding just north of Gull Rock. Not ones to ever say no to seeing a whale Pete and I headed right over to take a peek at the petite mysticete. Minke whales are considered a “small whale” but are still right around 30 feet long…. More than half the length of M/V Sea Lion. We got a great look at the whale as in lunged through the water right next to the boat. To cap off our wildlife-laden trip we also got a chance to catch a glimpse of some Dall’s porpoise. It was another great day in the Salish Sea, no non-magical days!

Filed by:

Captain, Lead Naturalist & Vessel Coordinator

Sarah M.

Sea Lion

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