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Gray Whale Facts and Info


March 4 through April 30, 2017

The Gray Whale Tale

Every year, just as the daffodils are starting to bloom in gardens and fields throughout the Pacific Northwest, the beautiful, calm waters of the Puget Sound reveal a stunning feature of their own.

The long anticipated return of the mighty Gray Whales.

For those of you that have never had the opportunity to witness these incredible creatures, just imagine this . . .

It is a cool, misty morning and the early spring sunshine is just starting to peak out over the snow-covered mountains of the North Cascades National Park. You are out on a Gray Whale cruise aboard the classic 100ft. Mystic Sea. Relaxing on the heated aft deck with a cup of hot cocoa in hand, you gaze out at the silvery-slate colored water. You can hear others whispering in anticipation of what the next wildlife sighting might be. Maybe it will be a Harbor Seal or a Bald Eagle? Or even a Dalls Porpoise?

Then all of a sudden, with the perfect marriage of force and grace, an ENORMOUS Gray Whale surfaces and blows! From your vantage point it seems like it was just a few yards from the boat! Then just as quickly as it came, the whale slips back into the dark water and disappears. Only a few moments pass before the whale surfaces again . . . but wait! This time he has a mate with him, and she is even bigger! One after another, they both expose their huge arching, barnacle-covered backs, raising their tail flukes completely out of the water. WOW, it took your breath away and gave you chills, but you still managed to snap the perfect photo!

Come experience these magnificent creatures yourself in Spring of 2017!

Board the Mystic Sea in Langley, and join us to explore the Whidbey and Camano Island areas to witness these spectacular mammals during their annual migration. Approximately 20,000 Gray Whales migrate between feeding and breeding grounds in Baja and Alaska.  Some come in from the Pacific Ocean into the Straits of Juan de Fuca and the Saratoga Passage / Hat Island areas, stay for two to three months, and then continue on their migration.

All of the whales are named, numbered, and tracked very carefully. Individuals can be identified by their dorsal surface as well as their unique patterns of grey and white patches, scars, and barnacles that cover their dark skin. Gray Whales are classified as Baleen Whales; they are filter feeders that turn on their sides and use their baleen like a sieve to scoop up sediments and crustaceans from the bottom of sea floor, leaving huge trenches that can often be seen on low tide in the Puget Sound area. Mature adults can measure up to a stunning 45 feet in length and can weigh as much as 40 tons! Gray whales have 2 blowholes on top of their head (unlike Orca Whales which only have one), and they do not have a dorsal fin. Instead, they have 6-12 dorsal “knuckles” leading to their tail flukes, which are usually between 10 and 12 feet wide. One of our favorites is Patch, #49, named after his distinctive large white patch on his back.


On April 11, 2010, passengers aboard the Mystic Sea witnessed a rare sight; Patch was attacked by a pod of Transient Orca Whales. Unlike our salmon-eating Resident Orca Whales, Transient Orcas eat mammals, including seals and porpoise. It was sad to imagine that we may never see our favorite Gray Whale again. Fortunately though, that was not the case — Patch turned out to be OK and he still returns to the Saratoga Passage every spring.

So whether you are a local and have seen these mighty whales many times before, or if you are a visitor to the beautiful Pacific Northwest and have yet to see your first whale, then come join us aboard the Mystic Sea to welcome Patch and all of the other Gray Whales back in 2017!

The city of Langley welcomes the gray whales and Mystic Sea Charters! Watch the video.