California Sea Lions
Mature Bald Eagle
After a few days of cold and rain, we got a nice reprieve for today’s trip with sunny skies as we departed from Seattle. With no reports of any whales in the south, we decided to head north to see if the gray whales had shown up yet. While most gray whales migrate from Alaska to Mexico and back, there is a small group of about 10 gray whales nicknamed “Sounders” that have discovered the large quantities of ghost shrimp present in north Puget Sound and come here each spring to feed. They traditionally show up the last few days of February and first few days of March, so we figured we’d go give the area a thorough search.
We turned right out of Elliott Bay and found two California sea lions asleep on a marker buoy. It was a great day for birdwatchers as we passed dozens of surf scoters, cormorants, and western grebes as we continued north. As we approached Everett we even saw a mature bald eagle in flight. We circumnavigated Hat Island and completed an exhaustive search of the area, but no signs of the “Sounders” just yet. It should be any day now, just in time for our Everett opening weekend March 4th and 5th!
On the way back to Seattle we found another California sea lion alone on a buoy that seemed to wave at us as we passed by. It was the perfect end to the trip!
Our friends at Orca Network had reported an unidentified whale, possibly a gray whale, feeding off the northwest side of Whidbey Island in recent days. With our official gray whale season in Everett kicking off in a few weeks, we figured we’d head up north to do some scouting and see if any of our Puget Sound regulars had shown up for the spring yet. We made it as far as Possession Point and gave things a thorough check, but no whale spouts up north today – soon though!
Very shortly after turning around to try our luck to the south, we got a report of a whale swimming north in Colvos Passage. While we couldn’t be certain, based on the location we had a hunch that this could be our buddy “Speckles”, and we were right! We intercepted this familiar face, or shall we say familiar fluke, near the northern end of Vashon Island. Many people associate humpback whales with long migrations in winter to warmer breeding grounds, but based on size, Speckles is likely far too young to breed. That means that as long as there’s plenty of food, which there seems to be, there’s no reason for him or her to make a long migration at this time of year – lucky for us!
We were a little late getting back to the dock today, but it was well worth the extra time spent on scene. Stay tuned for photos and more details coming soon!
Large Numbers of Harbor Porpoise
California Sea Lions Playing
Harbor Seal Eating an Octopus
Bald Eagle Fly-By
We were graced with quite a lot of “liquid sunshine” on our tour today (the Washingtonian name for rain), but that never brings us down! Whale reports from this morning showed that J Pod resident orcas were far away near Vancouver Island heading out to sea, so we decided to travel south to see if we could find young humpback whale, “Speckles”, or perhaps some different whales. Near Blake Island we saw a very large number of harbor porpoise.
As we headed down Colvos Passage, we spotted two California sea lions playing. We also were lucky enough to catch a harbor seal in the middle of snacking on an octopus at the surface! Shortly after, a bald eagle flew overhead. We did a lot of searching near Point Defiance, but couldn’t find any whale spouts today. There were plenty of California sea lions, harbor seals, and birds though. As our time remaining grew short, we decided to head home on the east side of Vashon Island and saw yet another California sea lion sleeping on a buoy south of Alki Point. As we sailed by the east side of Vashon Island, we kept a keen eye toward the shore, as confirmed mountain lion tracks were found on Dilworth Beach just one week ago today! No mountain lions today unfortunately, but what a cool sighting! They occasionally have been known to swim across Colvos Passage from the Kitsap Peninsula to Vashon (who says cats don’t like water!?)
No whales today, but as far as we’re concerned, any day on the water is a great one. Our next trip is Saturday, February 11th.
Stay tuned for pictures…