Puget Sound whale watching

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Puget Sound whale watching

Post by oldsalt » Mon Mar 25, 2019 7:19 pm

"The Three Princes of Serendip", a 16th century retelling of an old Persian folk tale, gave the English language the word serendipity. Serendipity, finding something while looking for something else, describes my watching gray whales lately. While cooking breakfast, the flipper and fluke of a gray whale feeding appeared in the shallows near shore. They lie on their sides like this, scooping sand in their mouth to dine on the ghost shrimp.
gray feeding

While I intentionally seek out whales, most of my sightings are serendipitous, while waiting in the ferry line, mowing the lawn, or beach hiking. I mention this now because the grays are in Puget Sound and make themselves known on a daily basis. The white spout, as much as 12 feet high, gives them away most often.

Sometimes, however, their spouts are virtually invisible, as it is here.
faint spout

In this case, sea birds betrayed its presence. Just as a flock of birds may indicate a herring ball, they also accompany feeding whales.
Other whales commonly spyhop, gray whales not so much. Yet we have seen one standing on his tail in the shallow water off jetty island near Everett lately. This one I saw off Hat Island.

Whale watching boats offer one of the surest opportunities of seeing whales. If you look carefully, you will see a whale just beyond this boat. I often find whales this way. It feels like cheating.

Of course, actually going on whale watching boat, there are several operating now, assures you of finding whales. I have limited my discussion to gray whales, because those are what I am seeing now. They are large whales without a dorsal fin. I have seen others from shore. I think everyone recognizes the black and white orca with their tall dorsals. If you see a large whale with a hooked dorsal fin, it is most likely a humpback. I have also seen fin whales and minke whales from shore. As a diver, you spend time on the beach. Keep watching, you may have your own serendipity.
-Curt :rawlings:
Happy to be alive.

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Jan K
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Re: Puget Sound whale watching

Post by Jan K » Tue Mar 26, 2019 8:32 am

Beauty is all around us, I see you have no problem finding it.
Thanks for sharing your observation. The largest critter in the water and yet, not so easy to see. In all those years spyhopping in Puget Sound, I never seen one underwater...

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Re: Puget Sound whale watching

Post by Tangfish » Sat Mar 30, 2019 8:26 pm

Great post! Makes me laugh at myself as I’ve traveled many thousands of miles to see whales in places around the world, and almost certainly have way more of them right here in my own backyard.

As Jan says, I’m surprised we don’t encounter them more often (or at all) underwater, maybe it has something to do with the vis!

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