Video: A gray whale stops by Hat Island to spout off and eat

The 35-foot mammal came within feet of the beach, giving humans and a couple of dogs quite a show.

HAT ISLAND — Excited children scream as a whale blows water from its spout.

“This is awesome,” one says.

Even longtime residents are impressed. Their visitor is close and putting on a show.

The barnacle-covered gray whale is only about 15 feet from where they’re standing on the shore of Hat Island.

Mike Murphy, of Lynnwood, caught video of the scene around 10 a.m. May 26. The whale was spotted near Murphy’s cabin on the southeast point of the island.

More people were visiting than usual because of Memorial Day.

“A lot of kids got to see something they’ll never see again really close up,” Murphy said. “It was really neat.”

Murphy has had the cabin for 11 years. Two gray whales have been visiting for the past five or so, although they travel separately.

The one in the video is larger, about 35 feet long.

They usually get close to shore, but this time was special.

“That was an exceptionally calm, low tide. It drops off so deep when it gets low like that, so it was an exceptional time to see them,” Murphy said.

The private island west of Everett in Possession Sound is around 1½ miles long. Nearly 260 families have either year-round or vacation homes there.

About 10 gray whales visit the area each year as they migrate from Baja California in Mexico to northern Alaska, said Howard Garrett, board president of the Orca Network on Whidbey Island.

The first two stopped in 1990, and four more joined the next year. The rest showed up in 2000. They mostly travel alone, although some move in pairs, he said.

The whales travel through the Strait of Juan de Fuca between late February and mid-May.

On their way north, they stop at the island to eat. They burrow three or more feet into the mud to reach shrimp, he said.

The pits can be near shore during low tide, which is why the whales get so close to land.

“Right near Hat Island, and all the way around, is prime mud-flat foraging for them,” Garrett said.

In the video, the whale does something called spy-hopping. It sticks its head straight out of the water to check its surroundings.

Half of the neighborhood came out to see the whale, Murphy said. His dog tried to swim with it.

“Come on Luna, don’t even think about it,” Murphy says in the video.

______

This story was first published in the Everett Herald. Stephanie Davey can be reached at 425-339-3192 or sdavey@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @stephrdavey.

More in Northwest

Residents at SeaTac’s Firs Mobile Home Park received a closure notice for October 31, but most have chosen to stay in their homes. Photo by Melissa Hellmann
South King County coalition targets affordable housing

Rent and housing prices hit south end communities hard; SeaTac, Tukwila, Kent, Burien, Renton and Auburn are working to create organization like Eastside’s ARCH

Microsoft will invest $500 million toward regional housing

Mayors of nine cities — including Auburn, Kent, Federal Way, Bellevue, Kirkland, Redmond, Issaquah, Renton and Sammamish — have pledged to help

Exit poll indicates Washington voters still support climate change action

State environmental organizations’ poll points to continuing support for carbon-reducing measures.

Attendees gather after the Dec. 21, 2018, meeting at Seattle’s Daybreak Star Indian Cultural Center.
Washington indigenous communities push for action to address violence against women

A new law seeks to strength data collection on missing and murdered indigenous women.

Wikimedia Commons CFCF photo
Proposed law would raise age limit for tobacco sales in WA

Lawmakers cite health concerns over tobacco and vape products

Gift creates Karalis Johnson Retina Center at UW Medicine in Seattle

Donor is passionate about finding a cure for macular degeneration

Rape allegation against Sen. Joe Fain divides King County Council

In a recent interview, Councilmember Kathy Lambert blamed Fain’s accuser for the alleged rape. Then Lambert’s colleagues distanced themselves from her comments.

Safeco Field. FILE PHOTO
King County’s Safeco funding package might go to referendum vote

The initiative, filed by a group called “Citizens Against Sports Stadium Subsidies” could put the $135 million spending plan on the ballot early next year

Palouse wind farm in Eastern Washington. COURTESY PHOTO, Chris Weber, Flickr Creative Commons
Report reveals inequities of climate change in Washington

The poor and communities of color are affected the worst, according to UW study

Photo by Cacophony/Wikipedia Commons
Safeco Field will get a new name next year

Seattle Mariners could make more than $100 million from naming rights.

The man on Iron Mountain

Chuck Pillon has been living on a 10-acre junk-filled property near Renton for decades.

Safe consumption part 3: The opposite of addiction

Final episode of our three-part series on controversial supervised consumption sites