June 25, 2018

Whale Breath

Captain Pete and I were taking off for our second trip of the day along with a handful of cheerful guests. We had been with some transient orcas earlier today who had swum out of our reach for our sunset trip, so we were hoping to find a humpback hanging out nearby. We headed down the San Juan Channel as the wind started to pick up and cause the waters to get a bit choppy. Once we reached Whale Rocks, we had to stop and say hi to our Steller Sea lions who seem to have chosen to reside there this summer. These guys are always a treat to see and I love sharing the excitement with the guests. After observing them and hearing them growl at us a bit, we left them alone and headed out towards the south end of Haro Strait. A nearby boat was with the humpback ahead and we quickly made our way there. In the distance, we could see the 15-20ft spout coming high into the air and then disappearing. As we approached this whale, it seemed to have no direction and to be taking short dives. We hung out in its proximity for a while, watching it come up for air then dive back down for a couple of minutes. Unexpectedly, after a couple of minutes without seeing it, it came up a few feet from our vow showing us an awesome view of its massive body. Amazed by its size already, the next time it surfaced was even better and closer! It surfaced right underneath our port side showing us an incredible view of its blowholes and letting us smell its “breath”. We were all so excited about this that we didn’t even mind the fishy after taste in the air it had graced us with! For quite a while afterwards, we continued to watch the huge animal come up for air and then go back down showing us its tail (fluke) a few times and allowing us to see the pattern and shape of it. The little kids on the boat did not like seeing the fluke because they knew it would only mean it was taking deep dives and that we wouldn’t see it for longer periods. The sun was setting of our port side and it was time to head back home. On the way back, we stopped at Shark Reef to see a hefty harbor seal hauled out on a tiny uncomfortable looking rock and looking up in the air there were two bald eagles flying so high that you could barely see their white. What a wonderful trip and magical sighting of a humpback!

Mariana, Naturalist, San Juan Safaris