Laura C. | M/V Sea Hawk | 7/23/2019 | 2:00pm
M/V Sea Hawk, a retired wooden fishing vessel, made a perfect whale watching platform for today’s wildlife tour! We had an epic whale watch that had a once in a lifetime wildlife views! Captain Sarah headed north towards Swanson Channel and we were so excited to see immediate breaching activity once we approached the scene! The 124As were showing off their impressive acrobatic skills, complete with tail breaching, lob tailing, flipper slapping and full body breaches!! The excitement continued throughout the whole time spent with this stunning family! At one point the large male started leaping out of the water and created such a gigantic splash! Passengers were thrilled to get this magnificent shot as his whole body soared through the air and landed on the water’s surface!
One of my favorite moments was seeing this male breach out of the water with the calf closely following behind. This calf has a lot of room to grow when compared to a big older brother! Flipper slapping is one of the best activities to watch in my opinion and I could watch those paddle flippers slam down on the water for hours! We could even hear that characteristic smack from our boat! We can speculate that perhaps this family had a successful hunt not too long ago and are properly celebrating after a well-deserved meal!
Eventually our time with the T124As had to end as there was more wildlife in the area to explore! As we headed back down past John’s Pass near the Cactus Islands, we found some breath-taking harbor porpoise, literally and figuratively! The water was so calm in this area that we could actually HEAR the exhalations of the nearby tiny toothed whales, which is quite a treat! Captain Sarah shut off our engine so we could really appreciate all that our surroundings had to offer! We heard the vocalizations from several bald eagles and were able to find at least 6 in the area! We even saw a minute sand lance in the mouth of a rhinoceros auklet! The sand lance is a 1-2 oz eel-shaped fish that is a common prey for many predators in the area, from this auklet all the way up to the 45-ton humpback whale!! Harbor seals completed this wildlife scene, basking along the rocky outcrops along the islands’ perimeter. We looked all around our vessel and absorbed the general splendor of this peaceful spot that seemed completely untouched by mankind. It was a most gratifying and humbling experience.
Our trip today was of the highest quality for wildlife expeditions and Sea Hawk’s temporary inhabitants became naturalists of the Salish Sea, soaking in wildlife of all shapes and sizes! And the T124A family topped it all off with the most incredible surface activity that one only dreams of seeing!