May 21, 2018

Zigging and Zagging with a Humpback near Plumper Sound

Thursday, May 17th | M/V Sea Lion | Noon

Pushing off the docks in Friday Harbor this afternoon, Captain Mike took the Sea Lion to the north, toward Spieden Island, where we found a few remaining Steller’s sea lions lounging on Green Point, savoring the last seconds of laziness before making the trek to Alaska for their breeding season.

Moving through New Channel and up John’s Pass we spotted quite a few bald eagles perched on trees and soaring overhead! We continued up through Boundary Pass and into the Canadian waters of Swanson Channel towards a report of a humpback whale bopping around south of Active Pass.

When we arrived on-scene we found just that! The whale was on a long dive, so we weren’t sure where it was going to appear. We slowed down as we approached and waited for the 45ft mammal to surface from the deep. Suddenly, we saw the huge exhalation of the whale off our two-o’clock and we motored a bit closer to get a nice view of the animal as it took its breaths.

We found that this whale was BCX1193 or “Zig Zag”, which was exactly what it did; this humpback zigged and zagged, one side of the boat to the other, north, then south and back again. What an exciting sighting!

We headed south again and chatted the whole way back to Friday Harbor, all about humpback whale biology and how we use the pigmentation on the underside of the tail to identify different whales and track them up and down the west coast. It's beautiful days like this that remind me how lucky I am to be working in the Salish Sea!