A Friendly Humpback by Smith Island – Foggy Day Adventures

[Lauren Fritz, M/V Sea Lion, 09/08/17, 1:30 pm Tour]

Today was foggy. I find days like today so relaxing and peaceful, and leaving Friday Harbor is so exciting because you don’t really know what you’re going to see! Fortunately, the fog around here usually only sticks around for part of the day, so although our tour started at 1:30 and it the visibility wasn’t great, it cleared up about halfway down San Juan Channel. Captain Mike expertly led us down into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. At Cattle Pass, we made sure to stop by Whale Rocks and check out some of the huge sea lions that were lounging around on the rocks. Some of the big males were extremely loud and aggravated today, pushing each other around and into the water. It was fun to watch, but I was glad not to be caught in the middle of a sea lion tussle!

Onwards we went after leaving behind Whale Rocks. Captain Mike drove us towards Smith Island, close to the west shoreline of Widbey Island. Here, Naturalist Sarah and I almost squealed with excitement when we saw a tufted puffin cruising around on the water nearby. His bright orange beak and white face are definitely reminiscent of a clown, but this guy wasn’t busy trying to make us laugh – he quickly dove and continued his search for food. What an amazing bird, and what a cool chance to see him out in his natural habitat. Smith Island is a bird and marine reserve, so it’s a great place to check out the amazing bird species we have around here.

After we watched our puffin friend, Captain Mike took us to check out a humpback whale. How cool! This was definitely a juvenile. He was pretty small for a humpback, clearly very preoccupied with feeding and a little spastic and unpredictable in his movements. He had a beautiful tail fluke as well – check out the photos I snapped today and let me know what you think! This whale is not in our humpback ID guide, so he must be a new visitor. The more the merrier, I always say. It’s nice to see new flukes!

It was about time to head back towards Friday Harbor, but not before a chance to check out an eagle’s nest and a couple beautiful adult eagles perched near Long Island on the south side of Lopez. What a perfect way to end a tour full of amazing wildlife encounters. We saw a lot today, and I wanted to thank each and every one of you who joined us. You were wonderful, and we’d love to have you back out again.

Naturalist Lauren, San Juan Safaris


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