Lauren Fritz, M/V Kestrel, 07/22/17, 2:00 pm Tour

M/V Kestrel had a fabulous evening tour today – so much to see out here! We left the dock in Friday Harbor excited to search for some large baleen whales in the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and we were not disappointed. We encountered a humpback whale south of Victoria, with long surface intervals and several beautiful fluke up dives. I managed to snap a neat dive sequence with my camera – check it out below!

Our trip was only beginning, however – there was even more wildlife to see. We saw four minkes in a feeding frenzy nearby around Hein Bank, an area where the water depth changes from 500 feet to 50 feet. This is a common spot to see these whales lunge feeding. We were able to witness the creation of numerous bait balls, or tight schools of fish that the whales feed on from below and the birds feed on from above. Check out the photos below.

On our way home, we cruised by Whale Rocks to search for harbor seals, and we were surprised to see two Steller’s Sea Lions lounging on the shoreline. These are some early returners – we usually don’t see these critters back from Alaska until the end of August at the earliest! Had they gotten lost? Were they sick of the Alaskan waters up north? Who knows, but we were happy to see them. We also watched several happy harbor seals feeding in the bull kelp – I think I even managed to snap a photo of one taking a quick nap!

Thanks to all who came out on our tour today – we saw a wide variety of animals, enjoyed some glassy seas, and covered a lot of water. Captain Mike and I sure hope you enjoyed it!

Bait Ball – A Seabird Feeding Frenzy

Rhinoceros Auklet with a Snack

Some Early Steller Sea Lions

Lounging Harbor Seal

Harbor Seals Hanging Out on Whale Rocks

Naturalist Lauren Fritz, San Juan Safaris