Archive for the ‘orca whale watching by seattle’ Category

Awesome Killer Whale Watching Season!

Thursday, October 30th, 2014

With November right around the corner, we cannot believe how fast this season went!  Not only was it a wonderful summer full of sun, but we had record high orca whale sightings!  This past season we had ample time to enjoy J,K, and L pod in their summer hunting grounds in the Salish Sea.  Many of these days were spent on the west side of San Juan Island, a favorite spot for the salmon eating Southern Resident Killer Whales.  On days that the SRKWs (Southern Resident Killer Whales) were out fishing in the Pacific Ocean, we were greeted with Transient Orcas.  These marine mammal eating orcas were seen with even more regularity this summer, which made for some exciting trips!

Not only were the orcas out and about almost every day this season, but Pacific White Sided Dolphins were seen often and in huge groups and humpbacks have been spotted with more regularity too.  Pacific White Sided Dolphins like to engage boats in bow and wake riding.  Guests were lucky enough to experience over 200 of these playful dolphins one day right outside Friday Harbor!  Humpbacks have been seen more and more over the past few years and we hope that this means the return of these gentle giants.  At 60ft long, a Humpback Whale is quite the sight!

Looking back, it has been a truly wonderful season and we can only hope 2015 sets even more records for wildlife sightings!

Naturalist Emily

San Juan Safaris

Humpback and Orcas! 2 Whale Delight!

Sunday, October 12th, 2014

Captain Mike, Owner/Naturalist Brian, guests, and I left Friday Harbor headed north in the hopes of finding whales.  Even though we started the morning with no reports, we remained hopeful as we motored along Orcas Island.  And then puff it’s a humpback and her calf!  Guests aboard the M/V Sea Lion were lucky enough to be the ones to spot the pair of humpback whales!  Over the past few years, we have been encountering more and more humpbacks, and we hope this marks the start of their return to the area.

After spending some quality time with the humpbacks,  we got a call about transient orcas in Canadian waters!  The T37s were traveling south from Saturna Island and we even got to see some foraging behavior!  With a youngster of only 2 years in the group, these transient orcas are always a treat to see.

After our fill of whales, we headed towards Friday Harbor with smiles and great photos.  These days can always brighten a rainy day!


Naturalist, M/V Sea Lion, San Juan Safaris Whale Watching


Late Season With Lots of Whales!

Wednesday, October 1st, 2014

It may be later in the whale watching season, but if you are out on the water it sure doesn’t feel like it. Southern Resident Whales have been out and about in the area daily, and today was no different! Today we spotted whales right off of Lime Kiln Whale Watching Park and the whales extended up the island from there! We were able to spend time with Cappuccino, K-21, and even good ‘ol Blackberry, J-27. Not only did we get to see our incredible orca whales, but also a few Pacific White-sided Dolphins that were riding the wake of our boat as well as chasing a few of the orcas. Inter-species interactions are always one of my favorites! Great day on the water, and looking to another wonderful one tomorrow.


Caitlin, Naturlist, M/V Sea Lion

San Juan Safaris

A Trifecta of Whales- Orcas, Humpbacks, and Minkes!

Friday, September 26th, 2014

A trifecta of whales today for the ‘ol M/V Sea Lion. Guests that stuck with us through the rain and the spray from the waves were rewarded with incredible views of not just our resident orcas, but also TWO humpbacks, AND a minke whale! Oh and did I forget to mention the 7-10 Dahl’s porpoise that decided to ride the wake of our boat for up to 15 minutes? Yes, that also happened! It was a great day on the water and the wildlife was out in droves. Never a dull moment for the M/V Sea Lion. Here’s hoping the next few days will be just as exciting.



Naturalist, M/V Sea Lion

San Juan Safaris

Fun (and whale) filled day!

Wednesday, September 24th, 2014

Today Captain Mike, Caitlin and I had a very eventful day on the water. Though we left with no reports of orcas, we felt hopeful that some might turn up around the islands. We first stopped to see some Northern sea lions just south of San Juan, before catching up with a pod of right around 100 Pacific white-sided dolphins! We enjoyed their antics as they surfed in the M/V Sea Lion’s wake and bow rode at the front of the vessel. It is always fun to see these very athletic visitors to the San Juan Islands. We left the dolphins and headed north in Haro Strait….. AND WE FOUND J AND K PODS! We enjoyed watching the whales breach, travel and fish. We left the orcas just near Lime Kiln State Park, and continued north to find some humpback whales! Overall, it was an amazing day on the water!

Sarah, M/V Sea Lion, San Juan Safaris Whale Watching

Cetacean Madness!!!!!

Sunday, September 21st, 2014

Today Captain Mike, Naturalist Caitlin and I had a trip that we all agreed was the highlight of our season. We left Friday Harbor at 12:00pm and immediately stumbled across some harbor seals hauled out on some rocks. The seals need to lay in the sun to warm up as they have a very minimal layer of insulating fat known as blubber. With another stop to check out some nesting double-crested cormorants and some gulls, we headed out to find a minke whale on a glassy Haro Strait. We caught up with a minke whale while it was feeding and enjoyed watching it surface a few times in beautiful golden light. After about 20 minutes we left the minke to catch up with some orcas! We were delighted to have a report of southern residents (the salmon-eating whales) this late in the season. Though we see transient orcas all year round, the residents are usually here only when the salmon are running June through August. With that being said, we are having an excellent September for whale watching! We were delighted to see L72 Racer and her son L105 Fluke, as well as J28 and her son J46 Star. We enjoyed many breaches and great underwater vocalizations broadcasted from our on-board hydrophone. We had some excellent looks of whale sin both L and J pods. After leaving the orcas in Haro Strait we started to meander our way back to Friday Harbor, finding some northern sea lions and a bald eagle. As we rounded a corner, nearly back to the harbor,  the water around the M/V Sea Lion started to boil with over 150 Pacific white-sided dolphins. The dolphins played in our wake, bow rode, and lept out of the water. We were all so entranced that we ended up extending our trip by about 40 minutes! Today was the most incredible day on the water I have had the pleasure of witnessing. I will be dreaming of dolphins tonight.

Sarah, M/V Sea Lion, San Juan Safaris Whale Watching

Whales on the South Side!

Sunday, September 14th, 2014

Yesterday we left Friday Harbor with the reports of whales around Salmon Bank.  We headed South through San Juan Channel and found a harbor seal haul out on the way down.  We then continued down through cattle pass and found the whale around Salmon bank.  There were families from J, K and L pods!  We initially saw the K13′s, which includes K13 (Skagit) and all her descendants making a total of 7 whales in the family.  We then got to see a resting group of whales from Jpod which included the big male J27 (Blackberry) and his two siblings as well.  Another family in the resting group were the J22′s also known as the cookie clan!  The J22′s consist of 4 individuals all named after types of cookies.  We got some great views of the whales and then headed back towards Friday Harbor.  On the way we saw some stellar sea lions at the whale rocks.  We also even got to see a bald eagle on the way home!  All in all it was a wonderful day out on the water!

Naturalist Rachel

M/V Sea Lion, San Juan Safaris

Sunny Day with L-pod!

Sunday, September 7th, 2014

Yet another beautiful late summer day with the Southern Residents! We had a spectacular afternoon full of breaching, tail lobbing and porpoising…. generally very happy orcas! Today we enjoyed the company of a couple of different L-pod families. We spent the most time with the L54s (L54 “Ino” and her calves L108 “Coho” & L117 “Keta”) who were joined by some of my favorite males: L92 “Crewser”, L88 “Wave Walker”, and L84 “Nyssa”. Wave Walker and Nyssa are the last remaining members of their matrilineal lines, so they are often seen travelling with other families. After yesterday’s news of the new L-pod baby we all were keeping our eyes out for the newest addition to the Southern Resident Community, but alas L86 “Surprise!” and her brand new calf L120 were not with the group we saw today. After spending some time with the killer whales we found Steller’s sea lions hauled out on some rocks and were also fortunate to find two bald eagles! The water was like glass all afternoon, and the light was absolutely beautiful. Overall, a great afternoon on the water!

Sarah, M/V Sea Lion, San Juan Safaris Whale Watching

Late Summer Resident Whales!

Saturday, September 6th, 2014

Saturday September 6th was a great day on the water. M/V Sea lion, captain, crew, and guests enjoyed the sunny weather and calm seas on the south west side of San Juan Island today. The resident (salmon-eating) orcas seem to still be finding food here in the Salish Sea and were back in full force. We had reports of all three pods in the area (J, K, and L)! We spent most of our afternoon with what seemed to be a mixture of K and L pods, with some close looks at K21 and L44 both mature males in the Southern Resident community. But killer whales weren’t all the guests got to see!

We also got to spend some time viewing Stellar Seal Lion males fighting and barking at each other for space on the rocks. The seal lions like to rest and warm up while hauled out on the rocks but the males compete for the highest spot on the rocks. It was amazing to see these 2000+ lb whales battle it out. We also got lucky enough to spy a Tufted puffin!! Extremely rare in this area but our guests got to see a solitary bird hanging with some gulls, and auklets.

Beautiful, fun filled day on the water today!


San Juan Safaris

Relaxing Day On the Water

Thursday, September 4th, 2014

Today we left Friday Harbor with reports of transient orcas North of Waldron Island.  Transient orcas are the mammal eating types of orcas that feed primarily or harbor seals in our area.  We met up with the whale in the Strait of Georgia where we saw the whole family traveling together in a tight group.  Specifically the whale were the T65A’s which consist of T65A and her four offspring, the youngest being born this past March.  The family was moving North up the Strait of Georgia at a nice steady pace.  We watched the family for some time and then headed back towards Friday Harbor.  On the way home we saw a large group of harbor seals hauled out onto a rock near East Point.  As we got closer to Friday harbor we  were pleasantly surprised by a stellar sea lion swimming in the water!  Then about 50 feet away we saw a harbor seal swim through the water.  This was a great way for guests to get an idea of how big stellar sea lions are.  Harbor seals weigh about 200 pounds while stellar sea lions can way up to 2,000 pounds!  We had a beautiful relaxing day out on the water and the guests all seemed to enjoy seeing a family of transient orcas.

Naturalist Rachel

M/V Sea Lion, San Juan Safaris