A Familiar Minke Whale Saves the Day


A familiar minke whale saves the day for us this time!  We started out on a normal search pattern to the south and stopped at Colville Island for a good look at all the harbor seals hauled out on the rocks there.  We also found two black oystercatchers just above the seals.  Capt. Carl headed southwest from there in search of whales.  We found the first whale of the day in an unlikely spot out in open water south of Lopez Island.  Some of our passengers helped us spot it.  It was a minke whale we see often, nicknamed Nick Jagger, who has a cut in the trailing edge of his dorsal fin.  He was a little hard to keep track of at first especially since we think a second minke whale showed up and distracted us a bit.  Eventually we ended up getting some really good views of the minke whale we started with.  During a long dive from Nick a pod of very friendly harbor porpoise swam by.  After a long visit with the minke whale we headed west to look for more whales.  Near Hein Bank we spotted some violent splashing at the surface, and it turned out to be a Steller sea lion tearing up a skate for a meal.  We sat and watched this sea lion for about 5 minutes as he threw his food around and gobbled it down piece by piece.  The gulls were swarming in to snatch a free meal when they could get.  After he ate his meal and moved on we did the same.  We decided to visit our minke whale one more time, and got some of our best views of the day when the whale swam right toward us for a great close-up!  On the way back to the dock we stopped in at Castle Rock and spotted 4 bald eagles and a handful of harbor seals.  We also spotted a pacific loon, belted kingfisher, and a long-tailed duck among many of our regularly spotted seabirds.  Naturalist Bart Rulon

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