Whidbey Island is the premier location for gray whale-watching in Washington state, according to Terica Ginther, co-owner of Deception Pass Tours.
“During the gray whale migration, they stop to feed here,” she said. “Saratoga Passage between Whidbey and Camano islands has a large ghost shrimp population which draws them close to land as they head north.”
Sometimes whales can be seen from shore as they come near to scoop up large mouthfuls of mud and strain out the tiny shrimp. Gray whales have no teeth so they capture and strain their food through a fringed “curtain” of baleen, which hangs from the roof of the mouth. Grays are the only bottom-feeding whales.
Another way to see gray whales is from the water, aboard the high-speed jet boat operated by Deception Pass Tours. Based in Oak Harbor, the business is only a 20-minute drive from Camp Casey.
“Many times, once we leave the dock in Oak Harbor, we find whales right away,” said Taylor. “No place is as reliable and steady for seeing gray whales, and certainly not in these significant numbers. Some return each year, and they’re easily identified by their markings.”
Gray whales have the longest known migration of any mammal. They travel 10,000-12,000 miles round trip every year between their winter calving lagoons in the warm waters of Mexico and their summer feeding grounds in the cold Arctic seas.
The most reliable time to see grays off Whidbey Island is from early March to late May. Other marine wildlife, such as harbor porpoises, seals, orcas, and humpbacks, are also commonly spotted throughout the year.
Deception Pass Tours is offering a $5 discount per person for anyone who books a tour in the 2021 season by telephone and mentions this Camp Casey story.
Camp Casey Conference Center is the perfect location for an inspiring group getaway to Whidbey Island, Washington. Ideal for sports camps, church groups, outdoor education camps, summer camps, and other nonprofit endeavors, Camp Casey provides overnight accommodations and food service for groups large and small. Explore our group lodging packages and start planning your next group retreat today!
Story written by: Sherrye Wyatt
Photo provided by: Deception Pass Boat Tours