3 Gray whales, 723, 531, and an unidentified whale
California sea lions
Our wildlife viewing got started this afternoon with a slow down to take a look at a California sea lion hauled out on the channel marker at the end of Jetty Island. This sea lion was so sleepy that he only raised his head up barely and opened his eyes one brief time time before plopping his head back down. He must have had a rough night! Afterward Captain Carl aimed directly toward the shallow flats to the east of Hat Island to start the whale search, and just like this morning, he spotted our first whale of the day right there. As soon as we arrived this whale raised his tail flukes and we were able to figure out that it was gray whale #723. He swam right over toward the shallow flats from deeper water and spent the rest of his time near the surface and taking shallow dives.
After watching 723 for a while we decided to head northwest to look for more. As we reached the north end of Hat Island, I spotted a gray whale blow way off in the distance. We cruised over and parked the boat for while but never saw this whale surface again. So, it was time to aim back toward the Snohomish River Delta to see what we could find over there. It didn’t take long before I spotted some blows, and it turned out that we had two whales feeding in the shallows. Pectoral fins and tail flukes were sticking up in the air as these big animals fed. It took a while, but eventually we were able to identify them as 531, and 723. Not long after that Carl spotted another whale coming in from the northwest, which was likely the same whale that disappeared on us minutes earlier. We watched these three whales for the remainder of the trip. On our way back toward the dock we stopped in to see our sea lion friend one more time. He was still sleeping soundly as we passed on by for one last look. Naturalist Bart Rulon