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Whale-Watching Season near Mount Vernon Hotel

March 10, 2017 by Mount Vernon Hotel

Know Your Whales Before You Go!

Whale watching in Washington is on! Orcas or killer whales are the most frequently sighted, common up and down the Washington coast, especially in and around the San Juan Islands of Northwest Washington. However, other species of whales can also be spotted, like gray whales and humpback whales. Locals and visitors love whale watching in Washington and there is no shortage of excellent operators on the water to make your experience unforgettable. But before you go, let’s have a little background about these magnificent mammals.

Stocky orcas have a rounded head with a distinctive beak and a distinctive coloring – black and white. It’s a toothed whale belonging to the dolphin family and are the largest members. Males can reach about 5,000 kilos and to about 8 meters in length. Females are half the size and shorter. One of the ocean’s powerful carnivores, orcas feed on seals, sea lions, squid, seabirds and even other whales. Highly intelligent, they employ various means of catching prey using cooperative hunting in pods of about 30 to 40 individuals. They like cold, coastal waters and if they are resident pods, feed on fish; transient pods go for mammals. Females give birth every 3 to 10 years, after a 17-month pregnancy.

Gray whales are massive creatures, recognizable by their bodies and snouts covered in parasites, the whole mammal looking like a crusty rock. Grays can reach 40 to 50 tons and up to 40 to 50 feet long. They are baleen whales, using their snouts to forage and dislodge tiny creatures from the seafloor. The food is filtered through their baleen – a comblike strainer of plates in the upper jaw. One of the ocean’s great migrators, they travel more than 12,000 miles round-trip from their summer home in Alaskan waters to the warmer Mexican coast. One of their baleens, called a whalebone, was formerly used to make corsets and umbrella ribs. Conservation efforts have saved the whales from sure extinction.

Humpbacks have a distinctive body shape, with long pectoral fins and a knobbly head. About 13 to 16 meters long, they can reach 40 tons and live up to 50 years. They are found near coastlines, feeding on tiny shrimp-like krill, plankton, and small fish. Also migrating yearly, the humpbacks travel from summer feeding grounds near the poles to warmer winter breeding waters closer to the Equator. These powerful swimmers also leap out of the water and are well known for their complex whale songs, lasting hours.

Love to see the whales?

Staying with us, at the Quality Inn, your hotel in Mount Vernon, will give you easy and early access to whale-watching just nearby. Anacortes is just 14.27 miles from Mount Vernon, or 16.70 miles by car. Mount Vernon and Anacortes are 27 mins far apart (by car). Let our staff help you make arrangements.