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

USPS district manager Darrell Stoke, Janie Hendrix and Congressman Adam Smith (D-WA) unveil the plaque honorarily naming the Renton Highlands Post Office as the “James Marshall ‘Jimi’ Hendrix Post Office” on Friday, April 19. Photo by Haley Ausbun
Highlands Post Office honors Jimi Hendrix

Postal Service connected Hendrix to family during his Army service.

Colton Harris-Moore, known as the “Barefoot Bandit,” as seen on a GoFundMe page where he sought to raise $125,000 for flight training. (GoFundMe)
‘Barefoot Bandit’ asks judge to shorten his supervised release

Colton Harris-Moore says travel restrictions are holding back a lucrative public-speaking career.

Walkers rest amid the trees at Island Center Forest on Vashon Island, which is part of King County. Many trees around Western Washington are struggling, including Western hemlock on Vashon, likely from drought stress. Photo by Susie Fitzhugh
King County forests are facing new challenges

Hot, dry summers are stressing native tree species in Western Washington.

Washington State Capitol Building. Photo by Emma Epperly/WNPA Olympia News Bureau
Legislation targets rape kit backlog

WA has about 10,000 untested kits; new law would reduce testing time to 45 days

File photo
Law enforcement oversight office seeks subpoena power

Organization has been unable to investigate King County Sheriff’s Office.

State smoking age rising to 21 in 2020

Legislature approves change

Defense Distributed’s 3D printed gun, The Liberator. Photo by Vvzvlad/Wikimedia Commons
‘Ghost gun’ bill moves to Senate committees

Legislation would make 3-D printed guns illegal.

Michelle Obama brings largest crowd of book tour to Tacoma Dome

Former First Lady and author of ‘Becoming’ spends afternoon with local book club prior to event.

A man addresses the King County Council during a public hearing March 20 at New Life Church in Renton. He presented bags filled with what he said was hazardous materials dropped on his property by bald eagles. Another speaker made similar claims. Haley Ausbun/staff photo
Locals show support for King County waste to energy plant

Public hearing on landfill’s future was held March 20 in Renton.

After being homeless, Christy X (pictured) moved into her Coniston Arms Apartments unit in Seattle at the beginning of 2019. She had bounced around from shelters to friends’ places after facing an eviction at her West Seattle apartment in October 2018. A diversion program run by the nonprofit Mary’s Place helped her find housing. File photo
State lawmakers consider eviction reform legislation

Sen. Patty Kuderer, D-Bellevue, is bill’s prime sponsor.

Gov. Jay Inlsee signs into law the Native American Voting Rights Act, which allows a non-traditional address to be used for voter registration for residents who live on reservations. Photo by Emma Epperly/WNPA Olympia News Bureau
Native American Voting Rights Act signed into law

Non-traditional addresses can be used for voter registration on tribal lands

The Cedar Hills Regional Landfill is the only active landfill in King County. It will operate until at least 2028. It has been in operation since the 1960s. Aaron Kunkler/staff photo
Waste study puts numbers behind King County trash alternatives

County has one remaining landfill located near Maple Valley, and it’s nearing capacity