Humpback Whale “Split Fin” steals the spotlight!

Port Angeles.

Highlights:
*California Sea Lion sun bathing on Ediz Hook buoy, later joined by another male sea lion.
*Red-necked Phalaropes flying by the boat.
*Harbor Porpoise seen all throughout the Juan de Fuca Strait.
*2 Humpback Whales with dark tails spotted at the Rock Pile area.
*At the south end of Hein Bank, Humpback Whale BCZ0298 “Split Fin” entertained us all with its lounging, roll overs and playful turns in the Bull Kelp patty.
*Minke Whale gave quick looks in the Middle Bank Waters.
*Steller Sea Lion showed off his delicious treat before chowing it down.

*Photo Credits by Lee Leddy* Stay tuned for more photo additions…

Naturalist Log:
It was another beautiful day on the waters of Juan de Fuca Strait. As we neared the tip of Ediz Hook, a California Sea Lion was resting on a buoy. Upon our approach, the large male sea lion sat up and showed off his large chest and the sagittal crest on top of his head. He stayed nicely posed so that everyone got to take his picture. We left him to his sun bathing and headed out into the open waters of Juan de Fuca Strait. As we cruised through the waters, Red-necked Phalaropes flew by and salmon jumped up high. As we approached the south end of the Rock Pile area, some splashing caught out attention. We slowed and discovered some Harbor Porpoise and a Sea Lion had been the cause of the splashes. The slow down also gave us a chance to spot a large exhalation in the distance. It was a Humpback Whale – no wait – 2 Humpback whales! They were off in the distance but we saw their two tails come up and so we headed their way.

The Two Humpback Whales swam together in a slight circle pattern. Fishing? They brought up their tails on their deep dives. Both whales had dark fluke undersides. Both also happen to be new whales for the database – exciting! After several great looks at these Humpback Whales, we continued on our way to search more waters. We got as far as Hein Bank when the next whale was spotted. It was Humpback Whale BCZ0298 “Split Fin”. Split Fin spent a lot of time at the surface, blowing the exhalations over and over again. Suddenly, he made a bee line for the back of the boat. We thought at first that the whale would dive underneath us, but instead it did a back roll and popped up among the kelp right next to the boat. Split Fin got into a very playful mood as it rolled over and over, brought up its chin, and checked us out via a spyhop. After its playtime in the kelp, Split Fin left the kelp and continued to swim around the Hein Bank area. As it went into its deep dive, we said goodbye and continued our search.

We headed over towards to Middle Bank, and were not disappointed. A Minke Whale popped up. The Minke zig and zagged in its swimming pattern. Even with the erratic movement, we were able to get several great looks at this Minke. We said goodbye and checked out another area of the Juan de Fuca.
As we crossed through Coyote Bank, an excited bird flock caught our attention. Turns our the birds had a good reason to be excited, and they weren’t the only ones. A huge Steller Sea Lion was in the mix of the birds, his mouth full of a yummy fish. He quickly swallowed his treat and continued swimming around. Maybe he will find another treat.

As we returned to Ediz Hook, the California Sea Lion from the morning was still sun bathing, but this time he wasn’t alone. Another male California Sea Lion was hanging out with him on the other side of the buoy. And this time it was his turn to sit up and pose for pictures. What a great treat to our wonderful whale of a day.
~Tamara

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