One of my favorite things about Humpback Whales is that they are far less illusive and hard to track down than Killer Whales. Particularly this time of year the Southern Resident pods are farther afield in search of Salmon but some Transients tend to stay near shore year-round hunting marine mammals. The challenge is finding them, in their small groups, is like searching for a needle in a haystack. Thankfully Humpacks are a little different, 40 ton, 50 plus foot long needles, with 30 foot tall blows!
It didn’t take long for Captain Mike to pick up reports of two Humpack Whales along the South Coast of Saturna Island after we left Friday Harbor. Under a beautiful blue sky we met up with them and enjoyed seeing the pair surface and dive in unison for almost an hour. While it was obvious they were actively foraging, we were treated to some nice fluke slaps as the animals went down for deeper dives.
The day is always great when we have time to check out other wildlife in the San Juans, so with plenty of time to spare, we headed off to the Cactus Islands and Speiden. Harbor Seals and Bald Eagles were everywhere and we found a group of Steller Sea Lions resting off Green Point on Speiden. This in particular was a treat because we managed to sit and silently along side them as they snorted breaths and rolled about near the surface.
You never know when plans will change, and just as we were about to head down San Juan Channel, a call came in of a Minke Whale North of Flattop Island. Minke are in the same family as Humpacks but are much quicker when they surface and harder to see, so it was a delight to get some excellent moments with a more cooperative animal. We left it hunting off Waldron Island and headed back into port, recounting the great sightings of the day.
M/V Sea Lion, San Juan Safaris