[NOTE: 2015 GRAY WHALE TOURS ARE NOW COMPLETE]
Each spring, majestic gray whales migrate from the southern waters north to Alaska. In March and April they pass through the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Puget Sound, providing an excellent opportunity to visit and learn about these whales.
In 2015, the great whales returned – and we had a grand time hanging out with them.
Gray whales are baleen whales that migrate between feeding and breeding grounds each year. They reach nearly 50 feet in length and live between 55 and 70 years! The gray whale has a dark slate-gray color and is covered by characteristic gray-white patterns, scars left by parasites which drop off in its cold feeding grounds. They have two blowholes on top of their head, which can create a distinctive V-shaped blow.
The annual gray whale migration from the Baja Peninsula to the Bering Sea is a challenging, 10,000 mile journey for these great creatures. The area around Everett, Camano Island, and Whidbey Island is popular with the grays due to the robust shrimp population. We’re fortunate that the whales make a detour from their off-shore journey to join us in March and April to feed and build up their fat stores for the remainder of their journey to Alaska.
Two of the most recognizable gray whales are named “Patches” and “Dubknuck”. Along with other whales, we look forward to seeing them return to the waters off of Whidbey Island each year. Patches had a run-in last year with some transient orcas, which he was lucky to escape from. Transient orcas – as opposed to our Southern Resident orcas (which feed mostly on salmon) – eat pretty much anything. So it was a tense few hours out on the water while we watched the chase. Ultimately, Patches escaped – but that is life among whales in the wild!
The grays are back on the move – and we look forward to seeing them again in 2016.