Whale Museum in Friday Harbor

Heading up to the Whale Museum

It would be hard to live on San Juan Island for any length of time and not visit the Whale Museum in Friday Harbor.  We visited back when we first came to the island when Sandy and Eric visited.  With everything else going on, I realized the other day that I have not yet written about it.  Today I will correct that oversight.

The Whale Museum opened in 1979.  It was the first museum in the country dedicated to a species living in the wild.  The primary focus of the Whale Museum is on the orcas, especially the resident (fish-eating) pods that usually live in the islands.  There are displays about the evolution of whales and other marine mammals.  I found the display on the difference between dolphins and porpoises especially interesting.

The Whale Museum is two stories.  The first story is mostly a gift shop and gathering space for classes.  The second story has a large room with bones, information, and different interactive exhibits.  A small children’s area give kids a place to learn, color and read.  There is a detailed family chart with the different member of the resident J, K, and L pods.  People are encouraged to adopt one of the family members and several books have been written about the pods.  My favorite book is one we sell at English Camp called “Granny’s Clan.”  Anyone who lives on the island can tell you who Granny is.

I was the first person in our group done with the upstairs information, so I sat down to watch a video while I waited.  The video is the documentary “The Sonic Sea” produced in 2016.  The documentary is so powerful that I made everyone else watch it with me when they finished.  The documentary examines the affect of human-created noise on the mammals who live in the ocean.  Just as air is the perfect medium to carry light, so water is the perfect medium to carry sound.  Noise from a sonar ping can be heard over 1,000 miles away in the ocean.  Because whales communicate by sound through the water, the human-created noise is killing them and driving them away from their habitats.  Watch the video if you get a chance.  It will change the way you think about being on a boat in the ocean.

We really enjoyed our visit to the Whale Museum.  We spent over two hours there.  For me, half that time was watching “The Sonic Sea.”  Learning about our neighbors in the ocean made our whale-watching adventure even more awesome.