5 Gray Whales!


We found 5 gray whales today, and got a unique visit from some marine biologists from Cascadia Research!  The weather was gorgeous today and the whales were even better!  During our pre-trip orientation we had two bald eagles fly right over us!  After a brief visit with our California sea lion napping on the channel marker outside the naval station we headed toward Hat Island to look for whales.  It didn’t take long before Capt. Carl spotted our first whales of the day.  They were accompanied by a research boat from Cascadia Research.  4 gray whales were swimming very close together.  It was Patch, #49, 21, 22, and 383.  Right away we could see that #22 had a suction cup tag on his back that was put there by the researchers.  We watched 22 as she swam into the shallows of the Snohomish River delta while the other 3 split off and headed toward Hat Island.  She fluked for us a few times!  Next our passengers got a real treat.  The research boat came over and John Calambokidis talked to our passengers about the research they were doing with the gray whales and allowed our passengers to ask a few questions before they got back to their work.  John explained that the suction cup tag had a camera on it that they hoped would record some useful footage of the gray whales feeding on the bottom.  After their visit we decided to head over to watch 49, 21, and 383 for a while.  They were still swimming very close together and appeared to be interacting with each other under the water. Next we decided to push northward to look for more, knowing we would eventually come back to visit these whales.  We headed toward Camano Head and right as we turned southward again we found another gray whale, the fifth of the day, #53, Little Patch.  He gave us several good views before it was time to head back toward our big group of whales.  The whale trio was still in the same place we left them, and even though we only had a few minutes to spend with them, they gave us a great finale when Patch and 383 raised their tail flukes for us!  Other wildlife we spotted today included a Steller sea lion, brant, cormorants, red-necked grebes, pigeon guillemots, harbor seals, and rhinoceros auklets.  What a unique day!  Naturalist Bart Rulon

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