What a glorious day; the sun was shining, the seas were calm, and the wildlife was plentiful.
Our tour began with a stop at Turn Point where a number of harbor seals were hauled out. It is pupping season and several pups were observed basking in the sunshine next to their mothers or swimming alongside them in the brisk, 49°F water. At Whale Rocks we found two male Steller Sea lions swimming between kelp patches. The Sea lions would surface and take a look at us before diving. One individual kept waving at us; he would hold one flipper out of the water at a time.
Near Salmon Bank, just south of San Juan Island, our Captain spotted a Minke Whale (48°25.10N, 122°58.03W)! Minke Whales are a baleen whale and approximately 30 feet in length. Salmon Bank is a very productive area and the Minke Whale was busy foraging. The whale seemed to be listening for bird activity at the surface indicating a bait ball of fish had formed. The whale would then come up from below and engulf the bait ball, scaring all the birds into flight. A very efficient foraging strategy; who wouldn’t want their own sous chef.
We also saw Rhinoceros Auklets, Cormorants, a mature Bald Eagle, a juvenile Bald Eagle, a Bald Eagle nest, a Great Blue Heron, Harbor Porpoise, Pigeon Guillemots, and some baby Gulls (aka big grey fluff balls). So fun!
Naturalist Amy, San Juan Safaris Whale Watching and Wildlife Tours