Our search for wildlife today took us west and we pushed through Guemes Channel after leaving the marina. Though the skies were overcast the water was calm and we were quickly graced with the presence of some harbor porpoise as they darted through our wake.
Captain Michael pointed us down Rosario and we had our first slow down as we cruised between Castle Rock and the southern shoreline of Lopez Island. We spotted many harbor seals hauled out on Swirl Rocks and they weren't alone! Some harlequin ducks, black oystercatchers, and a couple of Canada geese were present too.
But we were on the search for something bigger and so we continued heading west into the eastern Strait of Juan de Fuca. As we approached Eastern Bank we saw a brown pelican! We don't usually see them here and it was a big surprise, but it wasn't quite as big as something up ahead---actually TWO somethings! It was one of our favorite humpback whales and her newest calf.
Big Mama and her baby, affectionately dubbed "Poptart", were hanging out at Eastern Bank too. As we got on scene Big Mama was off always from Poptart who seemed to be enjoying rolling around at the surface. Fins and flukes were flying as the little one rolled around at the surface. A few times we even saw the kiddo lift their head out of the water as if to take a little peek back at us.
"Poptart" playing with kelp as mom fed.
Eventually the two joined back up together and gave us a great pass off the bow. Big Mama was even draping some bull kelp over her back! After spending some quality time with the pair we bid them farewell and pointed back east.
Big Mama (BCY0324) with kelp.
"Poptart" entertaining herself.
It wasn't long before we smelled our next whale. That's right, we smelled them first! we found not one, not two, not even three but five or six(!) minke whales. And a couple of them were swimming side by side when we arrived. It seemed like at some points everywhere you looked there was another minke whale. We got some great looks as they surfaced near the boat. One of them even lifted their back fairly high out of the water so you could see part of the chevron markings on its side and back. How cool!
Minke Whale (note the parasite on its back just forward of its dorsal fin)
But eventually we had to head towards home, though not before checking out a bunch of cormorants and two bald eagles on Smith and Minor Islands.
Eventually we returned north through Rosario Strait, checking out more harbor porpoise and a harbor seal as we went, and headed back to Cap Sante.