Whale Tales – Humpbacks and Oystercatchers

By Captain Ken Rea

Today was a mixed bag of viewing with Heather and Calf, Baby Black Oystercatchers, pregnant seals and more.

The tour started out promising with a shore sighting of an orca pod between Shaw and Orcas Island. As all the afternoon tour boats began searching in different areas, we were all hopeful. However, this pod eluded all of us. I started my search heading south in San Juan Channel but when I started encountering fours and five seas, I abandoned that thought and turned north.

We saw some very pregnant seals ready to pop out some pups any day. We also saw a few harbor porpoises along the way and went right up to the USA/Canada border to see if we could spot Heather and her calf. She is a humpback whale and a coup of weeks ago I was the first to notice she had a new calf and grabbed some fantastic shots of the little one breaching.

We eventually spotted her traveling in the opposite direction last reported. We viewed her and her calf’s blows a couple of times then proceeded to the eastern end of the border where it turns due north. I followed the border north until we were in the path of the whales hoping they would cross the border. However, they turned north and then reversed course and headed back west again.

Under normal circumstances, I could easily cross over and back from Canada to the USA but with the COVID 19 shutdown, the water border is also shut down. I could see their blows, but was not close enough to get good photos. This is the first time I have done this, and I am starting a disclaimer that my photos in this post of Heather and her calf are from a couple weeks ago when I discovered she had a calf and are not from today. I just wanted my guests to be able to see who we were viewing at a much closer viewpoint.

On the way back I snapped a pic of the USCG cutter patrolling our border.

I stopped off at Low Island to explain an encounter with a pod of orca on a previous tour. We also discovered that the pair of black Oystercatchers I am used to seeing was feeding at Least two baby chicks. It was pretty cool to witness mom or dad tear into an invertebrate and the chick grab and run with the prize to gobble it up. It was a greedy little bugger without a simple thank you to mom or dad.

Photos by Ken Rea.

Ken Rea, owner and operator of the Spirit of Orca, is also the tour guide, photographer and naturalist on his Whale Watching and Wildlife Tours in the Salish Sea, San Juan Island, Washington.

To learn more about Captain Ken, visit https://spiritoforca.com



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