Piper | Saturday, September 28, 2019 | M/V Sea Hawk | 12:00 PM
Today Captain Erick and I took a really awesome group of folks out on the Sea Hawk from Roche Harbor. We started out leaving the docks and spying a humpback whale just outside of the marina! We got some incredible looks at this whale, fluking and breathing its massive breath at the surface. This whale was MMX0007, also known as “Bond” (hopefully for obvious reasons!). That number starts with an MM instead of a BC because the animal hasn’t yet been entered into the official British Columbia humpback whale ID guide, and the X means that the tail is 0-20% white pigmentation. Bond’s tail is mostly black, which I think its namesake would appreciate.
After a while we headed off to meet up with a group of Bigg’s killer whales that a captain of another of our boats picked up right before we left! It was a group of six orcas which were headed north into Canada and we watched them as they cruised up Swanson Channel. This was two families of orcas, one made up of a mother of three, her youngest having been born last year, and a mother of one, a little four-year-old. It was very sweet watching these two moms help each other out. These two families, the T35As and the T38As haven’t been seen very often, but when they have been spotted, they’ve been swimming together for most of those reports! Very cool!
Once we’d gotten some great looks at the orcas and they were leaving our range, we turned around and passed back into US waters, going past Turn Point on Stuart Island and down along the south coast, where we spotted our first bald eagle of the tour! It was up soaring around with a couple seagulls, which looked like specks compared to the six-foot wingspan of the eagle! We kept going toward Spieden Island and when we arrived, we got to see some Steller’s sea lions which were swimming around Sentinel Rock! The giant brown sea lions were poking their noses in the air as they breathed before ducking under the water. Typically, we see harbor seals hauled out on this rock, but today they’d been kicked out by their giant counterparts!
We kept looking out and saw some Mouflon sheep on the hillside of Spieden Island and another bald eagle was soaring just ahead! We also noticed that the harbor seals hadn’t moved very far; they were just over on the shore of Sentinel Island, hauled out under yet another bald eagle, perched up in the trees! At this point we were just outside of Roche Harbor again and there was a different humpback, a juvenile, that was sneakily surfacing in the distance. I spotted some of its blows in the glare, but we weren’t able to get a great look at that animal, which is fair I suppose because after the wonderful trip we had, another humpback would just have been too greedy! We slid back into the marina with some awesome memories of a fantastic afternoon!