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

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.

Safe consumption part 3: The opposite of addiction

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

Safe consumption: The debate

In the first of a three-part series, we enter into the heated, emotional, and sometimes bitter debate around one of the most controversial policy proposals in the country.

Olympic National Park to start capturing mountain goats this summer

Park Service releases record of decision on relocating, killing animals

Legislators and activists seek solutions to farmer suicides

Agricultural workers end their own lives at a higher rate than workers in any other profession.

The Rev. Michael Curry, left, the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church who gained international fame with his sermon at the royal wedding last month, was in Aberdeen on Saturday afternoon for a rally that sought to highlight homelessness. Photo by Scott Johnston
Bishop Curry speaks at Aberdeen affordable-housing rally

The presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church gained international fame with his sermon at the royal wedding last month.

Defendant in 1987 slayings of BC couple pleads not guilty

William Talbott of SeaTac was arraigned Tuesday in Snohomish County Superior Court.

Extremely low tide surprises Everett boaters

One boat was stranded for several hours off the Port of Everett launch.

Jay Cook and Tanya Van Cuylenborg, of Vancouver Island, were found slain in Washington in 1987.
Murder charges filed in 1987 killing of young B.C. couple

The suspect’s former friends have filled in some of the missing pieces for police.

Music on the Strait festival to debut this summer in Port Angeles

The even is intended to host great live music on Labor Day weekend and give Port Angeles yet another economic draw.

Amelia Allen (left) looks down at the track as she races another driver in unweighted practice soap box derby cars June 7 on Camano Island. The 11th Stanwood-Camano Soap Box Derby takes place Saturday. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
Brand-new track, permanent Camano home for Soap Box Derby

Races involving 73 cars are on Saturday at a converted ranch where striped pavement belongs to kids.

Father and daughter to graduate from Olympic College together, on Father’s Day

“I was just going to get my degree and walk away and she said, ‘No way!’”