Breaching Humpback in AM; Humpbacks and a Fin in the PM!

Port Angeles

AM Highlights:
*Close swim-by from Humpback Whale MMY0006 “Windy”
*Breaching Humpback Whale near the Rock Pile
*Oyster Catchers (birds) & Harbor Seals at Race Rocks
*Steller Sea Lion on buoy just south of Race Rocks
*Hummingbird flying near us as we headed towards P.A.

Trip Log:
The beautiful summer weather continued today as we headed out into the Juan de Fuca Strait. We started our journey traveling eastward, finding a Humpback Whale just south of a fishing area known as “31-36”. With the lifts of the flukes, we identified the whale as MMY0006 aka “Windy”. We stayed with Windy for almost an hour, during which time she even came over to the boat for some nice close looks. We said goodbye to Windy and then headed northwest towards an area known as the “Rock Pile”. Just West of the Rock Pile we spotted another Humpback Whale. We stayed with this whale for a few surfaces and then continued on our way. We headed to one of our favorite spots – RaceRocks lighthouse. Race Rocks is always a treat as the small rocky island are full of Harbor Seals and other wildlife. Today, some sharp eyed passengers spotted a few Oyster Catchers (birds) – what a treat! We headed back into US waters and shortly spotted another Humpback Whale. This whale was swimming along a current line – perhaps finding some yummy plankton. Suddenly, a Breach! The whale jumped out of the water so high, there was space between the whale and the water surface. It was an amazing way to end our time with the whales. On our way back to Port Angeles, a small hummingbird flew along our side, giving everyone a chance to snap some pictures, and then it said goodbye and flew northward.
~Tamara

PM Highlights:
-Too Many Humpbacks to Count
– BCX1068 “Split Fluke”
-Teamwork Finds the Fin Whale!

The fantastic weather continued into the afternoon providing idyllic conditions for our whale-watching adventure. We had several  passengers onboard that mentioned  while they had tried whale-watching from different locations around the world in the past, they always came up short and hadn’t seen whales. Little did they know that the universe was about to cash their rainchecks BIG TIME!  As we headed northeast from Ediz Hook, it didn’t take long before we began seeing spout after tall spout in front of us. What was originally two became six. Six became a dozen. A dozen became TWO dozen, and all told the Salish Sea provided us with close to 30 individual humpback whales ranging from young juveniles just a year or two old to HUGE adults nearly 50-feet long. We observed tail flukes, pectoral slapping, and even cooperative lunge-feeding at the surface!  It began to look like the Bellagio fountain show was happening all around us! There were some familiar flukes, like BCX1068 “Split Fin”, and some less common individuals that we couldn’t immediately match.

The real treat came in the second half of the trip when we received a report that the fin whale that’s been in the area lately had been spotted among the humpbacks. This is only the second fin whale on record to appear in the Salish Sea since 1930, so we definitely wanted to catch a glimpse! You’ve heard of finding the needle in the haystack? Well we had to find the fin whale in the humpbacks! There were spouts all around us but fluke after fluke revealed that they were humpbacks.  Just as we were wondering if we’d ever find the fin whale, it appeared just to the right of our vessel, swimming closely with two humpback whales! These gentle giants all feed on the same small baitfish and krill, so we got to observe them circling and feeding near each other for quite a while. When the time came, we headed home, but not before catching breathtaking views of the Olympic mountain range in the setting sunlight.

What a spectacular day on the water! Enjoy some highlight photos below!

-Erin

Fin whale in the foreground with humpback in the background
Fin whale 
Humpbacks galore! 
Humpback 
Lunging humpbacks 

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