Today was awesome. Call it luck, call it karma, call it retribution for the past few days of driving to Vancouver…whatever the case, I have never seen whales actually pull into the harbor. When we found the group of J’s they were just north of the harbor. They were cruising slowly south. I was expecting total chaos. Because of the whales’ proximity to town I figured everyone and their mother would be out watching. The sheriff was out and about, which was great to see. There were a few other whale watching boats there and a couple of private boats. One little speed boat cruised by at top speed fairly close to the whales. A big male raised half of his body out of the water in a giant, slow motion spy hop as if to say, “Hey buddy, what do you think you are doing?”
The whales continued lazily down the channel. More spy hops, a breach, lots of inverted tail slapping, and at one point one of the adults just laid on his back. It looked like they were enjoying the sunshine as much as we were. As the whales turned to corner in toward the harbor we departed and cruised south to find other wildlife. We saw seals, pups, eaglets, harbor porpoise, and even a school of fish. The sea was alive today. When we reached cattle point we turned around and headed back up the san juan channel toward the harbor. The whales were still moving south, but had slowed to resting pace, slowly surfacing to breathe and taking some longer dives.
Suddenly we got a call. Tucker the whale scat-sniffing dog had located his quarry. We stopped where we were and watched Tucker work. He ran from side to side and wagged his tail furiously. Finally we saw the scoop go into the water and Tucker was rewarded with his tennis ball. A cheer echoed from the surrounding boats. Not something you see every day.
If I had sat down with a piece of paper and had designed a trip myself I don’t think it could have been better than today. As we were pulling into our slip a bald eagle flew over head, its feathers illuminated from above. Ridiculous. Awesome.
Laura, naturalist, San Juan Safaris