August 13, 2019

Two whale species and lots of wildlife in the Salish Sea!

Erin | M/V Sea Lion | Monday, August 13, 2019 | 1:30 PM

It was an absolutely wonderful trip in the Salish Sea today. We left the harbor with numerous reports of large whales in the area, so we headed towards them. We made our through the San Juan Channel and into Spieden Channel. We crossed into Haro Strait and towards Gooch Island, where we soon saw a large blow in the distance. When we got closer, we saw that it was a humpback whale. The whale was taking really short dives and not showing its fluke when it went down for a dive. It was soon joined by another whale at the surface, which was an exciting surprise! Humpback whales are usually solitary, but they have short-term interactions with others all throughout their lifetime. The whales were identified as ‘Big Mama’ and ‘Frankenstein.’ We watched these whales for a short period, and then we headed toward some killer whales. 

When we arrived on scene with the orcas, they were traveling stealthily at the surface. There were two of them together. One of them was an 18 year old male, and the other was his grandmother, who is believed to be at least 64 years old. They are both members of the T18 family pod. The other two members of the pod, which are the mother and another son, were within a couple of miles of the two whales we were watching. Throughout our encounter with the whales they increased their speed of travel and had behaviors that were indicative of hunting. It was so incredible to see killer whales in their natural habitat. 

We soon headed back toward the harbor. On our way, we stopped by Sentinal Rock, which had harbor seals hauled out on it. They were also swimming around in the water. We then cruised along the southern shoreline of Spieden Island and saw some mouflon sheep walking along the cliffside. As we continued, we saw a bald eagle resting in a treetop! We were amazed at how much wildlife we saw in such a short period of time. It was an incredible trip packed full of wildlife. As the harbor came into view, we all had memories to last a lifetime! 

Naturalist Erin