May 28, 2018

Two Humpbacks in the Strait of Georgia

Wednesday, May 23rd | M/V Kestrel | 2:00 PM

This afternoon, Captain Gabe and I assisted our guests aboard the M/V Kestrel and set out to find some whales! With only second-hand reports we headed north to check things out. We arrived off Jones Island and slowed to nearly a stop. Scanning the waters, we found a small pod of harbor porpoise frolicking nearby! We moved west toward Green Point on Spieden Island and found a couple of Steller sea lions soaking up the sun.

Continuing our search through Spieden Channel we reached the western side of the island and came across a nice haul-out of harbor seals which were being spied upon by a mated pair of bald eagles perched in the trees on the island looming overhead! We rounded Spieden Bluff and came into New Channel and John’s Pass, at the end of which we found a bait ball created by a group of about a dozen harbor seals feeding on small fish under the water, marked by the flock of seagulls taking full advantage of this easy lunch! We then jetted across Boundary Pass and into Canadian waters when suddenly we got a radio call that a pair of humpbacks had been sighted just around the island from us!

We picked up speed again and made it to East Point on Saturna where there is still a large haul-out of harbor seals and the remaining Steller sea lions who have not yet left the Salish Sea for their Alaskan breeding grounds. The juxtaposition of these two pinnipeds shows the true size of the Stellers, which are the largest species of sea lion in the world.

Moving just up the coast through the Strait of Georgia we found the humpback whales! The pair were surfacing right next to each other throughout the sighting, first off our port side, then after a long dive the whales popped up off our starboard! They had swum right under our boat! A nice look at their flukes and dorsals told us that these whales were BCX1193 “Zig Zag” and BCZ0298 “Split Fin”, who was the 2006 offspring of BCY0324 “Big Mama”, a whale special to many folks out here because she was one of the first whales seen regularly in the Salish Sea upon their return. After an amazing time watching these two whales surface under the towering Mount Baker we headed home for our cozy slip in Friday Harbor.

Filed by:

Whale Watch Naturalist

Piper

Kestrel

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