SPLIT FIN ENJOYS OUR COMPANY

PORT ANGELES

Highlights

BXZ0298 Split Fin
Unidentified juvenile Humpback
Eagle at Ediz Hook
Race Rocks Lighthouse

     A sunny blustery day greeted us as we left the dock and headed into the harbor.Tankers were moored inside Ediz Hook taking care of their business as we proceeded towards the Straits of Juan de Fuca. An adult Bald Eagle was perched on the driftwood at the end of the hook.We were lucky to have the Pilot Boat head out to a tanker to drop off a pilot to guide it safely through the Straits as we left. With reports of the wind picking up in the afternoon and no reports of whales we headed west to beat the afternoon wind and have it at our back on the way home. It was a great choice.
    . We had angled north and west and we found BCZ0298 Split Fin a Humpback Whale we know well, south of Beechy Head near the freighter lanes.  He was in a hungry mood  feeding close to the surface with very short down times. Krill was scattered in the upper water column from the surface down to about 100 feet so food was aplenty. Right at home next to the boat he continued to feed slow and steady giving us an unprecedented view  of a humpback whale skim feeding. he wasnt shy with his flukes either showing them off with amazingly close passes. At times  he surfaced so close to us we could hear the flutter in in his exhalations. At one point  he launched himself out of the water with a caudal peduncle throw or tail throw splashing water up in a huge plume. We enjoyed his company for a long  time noting another exhalation in the distance.Eventually  a few Canadian whalewatch boats came over to see Split Fin  so we left him to eat and made our way over to Race Rocks.
    The blue sky made a perfect backdrop for Race Rocks Lighthouse dressed in black and white stripes. Pigeon Guillemots fluttered around in their comical way as we entered race passage and harbor seals lined  the rocks on both sides.Glaucous winged gulls stood sentinel on the rocky outcroppings as we  exited and turned our sights southward in hopes of finding another whale.
    Once again the captain turned us in the right direction with his whale sense and we found a juvenile humpback north of freshwater bay  feeding in a much faster pace than our friend Split Fin. It was fun comparing the two different styles of feeding with this smaller whale changing direction every few seconds, circling,  making complete turns but also feeding at the surface. This youngster would take quick short dives without a fluke ever raised and at what seemed like a frenzied pace. Another caudal peduncle throw was to be in our future as we watched this whale. O sudden fog rolled in from the west giving an eerie haze about us keeping us on our toes trying to keep up with this whales inconsistent moves and decreasing visibility.
     Our time  with the whales came to an end as the fog closed in and time ran short so we left  our new friend to his meal and headed east and eventually out of the fog. The Olympics were in all their glory and Hurricane Ridge sparkled in the sun. It was a great day spending quality time with two whales and having an inside peek at their lives as they went about their daily routine in our northern waters. What a privilege to share  some moments of their lives with us .
Naturalist – Lee

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