See whales that traveled more than 10,000 miles to be here.
Gray whales currently hold the record for the longest mammal migration, covering 10,000-14,000 miles each year as they travel from coldwater feeding grounds to the warm calving lagoons in Baja, Mexico. We are lucky enough to see these seasoned travelers as they make a pitstop on their annual return to Alaska. A small group of gray whales known as the "Sounders" return year after year and our crew can identify individuals by their different markings and scars!
Gray whale feeding is rarely observed, and just off the Everett marina is one of the only places in the world to witness it!
Gray whales are the only bottom-feeding whale, which means they literally scoop up an entire mouthful of the sea floor. They are a baleen whale. Instead of teeth, baleen plates act like a filter or strainer which enables them to expel the water yet retain their food. Their goal is a mouthful of ghost shrimp who live in the sandy sea floor of the waters surrounding Everett and south Whidbey Island. It is quite remarkable to watch these massive, up to 50-foot-long animals on their side, feeding in the shallow, calm waters. At low tide, you can even see the feeding pits left behind after an all you can eat ghost shrimp buffet!
Pit Stop on Migration Path
The long migration of the gray whale takes them from the warm waters of Baja, Mexico to the colder waters of northern Alaska. One record setting gray whale, Varvara, traveled from the Kamchatka Peninsula, Russia to Baja, Mexico and back again. She travelled 13,988 miles (22,511 kilometers) in 172 days! Gray whales spend their winter months breeding and calving in the warm waters of Mexico. Then they make the long trek north heading toward their colder feeding grounds in Alaska. There are some gray whales that make the pit stop here in the Salish Sea and snack on ghost shrimp before continuing north. On occasion, one may discover a rich feeding area and stay throughout the summer!
Best Spring Whale Watching
Our spring whale watching trips (April) frequent prime gray whale feeding grounds. The returning gray whales, or "Sounders" spend their days foraging in the waters around Everett and south Whidbey Island. A trained eye can see them from miles away as their blows can reach up to 15 feet high! Our spring Anacortes tours offer the rare opportunity to see these gentle giants feeding in calm, protected waters. Photographers often get great shots of flukes, spyhops, and the occasional breach!
Learn more about the area’s wildlife and scenery.
The waters surrounding our three departure locations offer some of the most diverse whale and wildlife viewing on the west coast. Onboard each of our tours, an experienced naturalist helps identify all of the whales, wildlife, and rich history that this area holds.