baleen plates
Humpbacks Feeding

July 13, 2016 – This morning the weather was fine and the seas were calm. The Marauder IV traveled south to the middle of Juan de Fuca Strait to look for Humpback Whales. Once we got there we found more Humpbacks than we’d seen any day this season. They were everywhere. Feeding in groups of two to four, they were diving deep at times and feeding on the surface at other times. We witnessed a pair of whales lunge feeding through a school of krill at the surface with their giant mouths agape.

Humpbacks are baleen whales so have no teeth. Instead they have sheets of baleen hanging from the top jaw. Typically a Humpback will have 500 – 800 baleen plates pressed closely together. These baleen plates are made of the same material as our fingernails. Humpbacks will lunge through a school of krill or small schooling fish and take a huge mouthful. They then close their mouth and push the water out through the baleen plates that act as a sieve and allow the water to pass through but retain the krill or fish inside the mouth. At one point this morning there were krill close to the surface and the whales were lunging along the surface with their mouths open – an impressive sight.

We then heard news of J Pod, one of our Southern Resident Killer Whale Pods, near the San Juan Islands, so we took off in their direction. We found them near Eagle Point and got to see their massive dorsal fin and even a very young calf that was travelling with them.

The afternoon tours were just as successful. We again saw Humpback Whales and caught up with J Pod for a second time. Our passengers who went on our Sunset Tour were incredibly lucky, not only did they get to see Killer Whales but they also got to see the lone Wolf who has made Discovery Island his home. Sightings of him are rare so it was a pretty eventful moment and the closing to a fabulous day!

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