California sea lion off Jetty island
531 feeding in the delta
723 feeding near Hat island
Both 531 and 723 joined together
The day started off different than usual, with gray skies all around and sunshine in the distance. A large rain cloud sailed over head as it bottle necked right on top of the Island Explorer 4. At first it seemed as if the rains were going to hold off but this cloud began to drizzle down onto the boat. It didn’t last long as the light winds blowing through the area were enough to push it on to the north. At this point our school group had shown up and we had begun boarding the boat and preparing for the day’s journey.
We left the dock without a hitch and were soon turned around, heading down Jetty island toward open water. Groups of pigeon guillemots and black oyster catchers dotted the shores and waters along Jetty island. The sounds of sea lions barking echoed in the distance and it wasn’t long before we got our first marine mammal. On a green buoy just beyond Jetty island, laid a large California sea lion, warming himself in the sun and snoozing away. As we circled him he perked up just for a second before returning to his slumber, in a most uncomfortable looking position I might add. After that it was time to look for larger animals, you know, whales.
We cruised out to the shallows off the south end of Hat island before turning around and heading up into the Snohomish river delta. It was here we were able to spot our first whale of the day!!! It was a ways in the delta so unfortuantely we were unable to get to close. As we watched this whale feed we could see it rolling on its side and churning up the waters. It was quite a sight to see but after a while we knew we had more to find.
We continued north from the delta toward Camano island and it was on this search that we spotted our next whale. We slowly got on seen and quickly found out that we had Lucy(723) as he was being very forthcoming with his tail. He was traveling south toward the end of Hat island to the shallows in order to feed. It definitely did not take him long to get there and soon he was doing big circles above the shallows. This didn’t last to long as the whale in the delta had begun to push out to deeper water and 723 had taken notice.
Within 10 minutes the two whales were side by side, surfacing almost in unison and even showing us a little tail. This cemented our guess in on who it was, 531!!! She was swimming in close to 723 as they headed west and at first looked as though they were going to feed in the shallows on the south end of Hat island. Apparently they were pretty full as they continued passed the shallows and out towards Whidbey island. We got some amazing looks at these two whales surfacing side by side multiple times before splitting off one last time and heading in toward the docks. It was a most excellent day!!!!