On Friday morning we headed out into the Salish Sea on a southerly bearing. Humpbacks were in the area! By the Candian-USA border we met up with a Humpback whale. whale. It did something quite interesting, a semi-breach bringing its back and tail out into the open and crashing back down into the ocean. We stayed with this individual for a while, watching it surface and dive, before making our way over to a couple more of these delightful animals. A pair of Humpback whales appeared to be feeding in synchrony. Beautiful to see these huge animals mirroring each other’s movements and to see their tails flick in unison when going under the water’s surface.
We rounded the trip off with a pit stop at Race Rocks Ecological Reserve and Lighthouse and a real treat was waiting for us: Stellar Sea Lions! These large fellas had headed up north to breed at the end of May/start of June but after a few weeks without their lofty presence it was a pleasure to see some of the largest Sea Lions in the world had returned to Race Rocks. More pinnipeds were in store for us in the form of harbor seals teetering on the edge of high tide. We comically watched one be swept off its post into the water as if it was on a water slide. Sitting on the boat ramp was another pinniped, a Northern Elephant Seal. Being the largest of all the pinnipeds its size was really impressive compared to their smaller harbor seal relatives. To finish the tour off we had a really clear viewing of a juvenile bald eagle. Its age was evident, as it hadn’t quite come into its characteristic white plumage on the top of its head. A magical morning with wildlife present in abundance.
After a successful morning out at sea, the crew headed out on the Marauder IV covered vessel full of energy to seek out wildlife. First stop was with a feeding Humpback whale. It was displaying frequent and rather short dives making us believe nutrients must be in abundance. Again, this individual was found in the middle of the straight of Juan de Fuca with the Olympic Mountains providing a picturesque background to our whale watching.
We left the individual to its foraging and came across two more Humpback whales. One in particular was carrying out some fascinating behavior: side feeding. This behavior had the animal turn on its side and opening its mouth wide to take in big gulps of the ocean. The nature of this animal being on its side meant we got to see its pectoral fin sticking out of the water at times. The underside of the pectoral fin is a striking white color; distinct to the dark grey dorsal side we had been seeing before. Occasionally it would join its fellow Humpback whale in a deeper dive giving all on-board a double viewing of Humpback flukes. Great to see these Humpback whales continuing to hang out and feed in the Salish Sea.
Thanks to everyone who came out. We hope you enjoyed your tour!