August 22, 2017

We Love Humpback Whale Appearances in the San Juans!

[08/22/17- M/V Sea Lion- Kelsey, Naturalist- 1:30PM]

Up until about 2002, there hadn’t been any humpback whales seen in the Salish Sea for over 60 years, because they were hunted until they were close to extinction. Since being put on the endangered species list, they have made quite the comeback, and now we are seeing quite a regular population (that’s on the rise!) returning to the San Juan Islands during the summer months when they are feeding. Today, we got a chance to see a juvenile humpback whale on the south side of Lopez Island!

We left Friday Harbor and San Juan Island on M/V Sea Lion, and we headed south to check out a minke whale from a report we had earlier. We came across some harbor seals and Stellar’s sea lions basking and fighting on Whale Rocks, and we then quickly checked out a bald eagle by its nest on Long Island. No juveniles in the nest now, because they are starting to learn to fly around. As we were viewing this super cool wildlife, we got a new report- a humpback whale just around the corner from us!

We excitedly travelled from Long Island just around the south side of Lopez, and sure enough, we came across the juvenile humpback! It was zigging and zagging, keeping us on our toes as it was coming across all sides of our boat. It looked like it was going to go unto a bay, but it turned around and soon started to head out into open water. It was taking a lot of fluke dives and breaths, giving us a great chance to see the animal on many surfacings. Sometimes it takes 10 minutes or so to see the animal reappear after a dive. Not today! We were lucky to enjoy this juvenile for many surfaces, and we had close to an hour for viewing.

This juvenile must have been brought here by its mother in the past, and its returning for feeding. We hope to see this one stick around and come back in the future!