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Guaranteed Whale Watching: You're Certain to Spot a Cetacean

The ghost shrimp of the Snohomish River in Washington State are so tasty that diners come from Baja Mexico to gorge on the invertibrates by the thousands.

The diners in question are grey whales. These hungry giants migrate into Puget Sound every spring to refuel before their long journey up the Salish Sea to Alaska. The whales park in the shallows of the Snohomish and use their baleen to filter the shrimp out of the shallow mud.

This is one of the many maritime delights of the Coastal Communites of the Salish Sea.


Pod goals.

A few years ago, I went out on a whale-watching tour with Puget Sound Express. We cruised along quickly and quietly in a catamaran -- the boats are designed to not stress out the whales. Sure enough, when we saw a whale, the captain killed the engine off the coast of Gedney Island. 

The wonder sparked by whale-watching tours is real.

What I didn't know about whales is that they smell awful. When they surface to exhale from their blowholes what comes out is mucus and bacteria and, well... basically, shrimp farts. It's pretty crazy. It's awful. Plus, they're all covered in barnacles and sometimes scars from fighting with other giant sea creatures. 

That's nature for you: being all surprising and beautiful and weird. The wonder sparked by whale-watching tours is real.


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If you choose to go on a whale-watching tour this year, consider going with Puget Sound Express. They're a three-generation family business. They are enforcing Covid-19 safety precautions like hand sanitizer, spaced-out groups, plexiglass, and a limited capacity on their voyages.

You might spot a minke whale, or if you're lucky, even a pod of orcas. It's a guaranteed sighting: if you don't see any whales you can come back and cruise for free until you do spot a whale. But if you like seeing the natural beauty of the Salish Sea (floating islands, views of snow-capped volcanos, etc.) you're definitely in for a treat.

Climb aboard and grab your binoculars. If you have a whale of a time out on the water... well, that's not a fluke.


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