Archive for the ‘orca whale watching by seattle’ Category

Rainy Day With A Chance Of Orcas

Thursday, July 24th, 2014

A lovely Pacific Northwest day in the San Juans complete with our resident killer whales! Leaving Roche Harbor, reports had our resident killer whales heading south along the westside of the island. If the whales continued south it was a toss up whether or not we would catch up with them in time, but M/V Sea Hawk decided to go for it. With the tide switching, there was was a good chance that the whales would change direction, and luck would have it, they did! We were able to catch up with Granny and the rest of J Pod near False bay where they were breaching and spy hopping to their hearts content. It was a great way to spend a rainy day! Never a dull moment out here in the San Juans.


Caitlin, Naturalist, M/V Sea Hawk

San Juan Outfitters

So much wildlife!! Oh, and killer whales too!!

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

Today the M/V Sea Lion had two great trips on the water- both located on the west side of San Juan Island. We left the docs with lots of questions and enthusiastic people just waiting to see some wildlife! Naturalist Chelsea and I feed on that kind of enthusiasm and love to answer all kind of questions. Among killer whales, we ended up seeing copious amounts of harbor seals, bald eagles, and even a pair of peregrine falcons!! It’s rare in the parts to see the peregrine falcon since they were listed on the endangered species list years ago, so we were all very excited to see them!

It’s pupping season for harbor seals here in the Salish Sea, and we ended up seeing plenty of mom and pup pairs- they are just so cute!! Those pups are what bring the transient orcas into these waters this time of year; however, today we ended up catching up with members of K and J Pod. K and J Pod are what’s known as our southern resident killer whales, and feed primarily on the Chinook Salmon that migrate through the area at predictable times of year to spawn. The resident killer whales that we saw were porpoising through the water, propelling their entire body out of the water so they can move easier at fast speeds! It was just incredible to watch! Towards the end, the whales seemed to fan out more, and entered into a foraging pattern. It was yet another great day on the water!!


Heather, Naturalist, M/V Sea Lion

San Juan Safaris Orca Whale Watching

Orcas on the West Side!

Monday, July 21st, 2014

What a day! We had two amazing trips with yet another beautiful San Juan Island day. The waters were calm and glassy, making it look like the orcas just glide through glass. Today was a particularly special day for me because I had a couple of my college professors out on our afternoon tour with us. If it’s one thing I know, it’s the orcas out here. It was amazing to be able to educate them, and the rest of the guests aboard, about the social structure, culture, anatomy, and family’s of the southern resident killer whales. What a treat!

We ended up going to the west side of San Juan Island and catching up with members of J and K Pod! We first saw the man himself- Mr. Cappuccino, K21, born in 1986. His two open saddle patches with the thick black streaks in them make him unmistakable! He cruised past us slowly, along with the matriline he usually travels with, the K16′s: Opus and Sonata. Sonata is a “sprouting male” who is just reaching sexual maturity. In the next 5-7 years, his dorsal fin will take off in growth, and will continue to grow until his early 20′s! We also saw members of the “Cookie Clan”: J36, Cookie, and J34, a local favorite named Doublestuf. Doublestuf was born in 1996, so he has not yet finished growing as well. The day was full of laughter, learning, and amazing sights of our salmon-eating resident killer whales. I couldn’t have asked for a better trip!

Heather, Naturalist, M/V Sea Lion

San Juan Safaris Orca Whale Watching

Residents back on the west side this evening!

Sunday, July 20th, 2014

Woo! After a few days without our residents I was feeling a little separation anxiety from them. Not that our whale watches haven’t been awesome with the transients but I was missing the regular residents. As we headed out on our 5:30pm sunset whale watch we heard the reports that a mixture of J, K, and L pods were heading our way from Victoria! The whales booked it our way and we caught up with them around Eagle Point and traveled north with them all the way past Lime Kiln to Andrews Bay. Along the way we watched them porpoise and travel speeds close to 10 knots!! We got some nice close looks at the J14s, and many other whales that were moving too fast to get a confirmed ID. It was a beautiful trip and we got to circumnavigate San Juan Island.

Naturalist Chelsea

M/V Sea Lion

San Juan Safaris

Transients North of the Border!

Sunday, July 20th, 2014

Captain Jim and I got to the Kittiwake this morning with zero reports of whales. We were planning out an awesome wildlife tour where we would be looking for the orcas, other whales, and some of the other wildlife in the area, when we got a call that there were transient orcas north of Sucia Island and Alden Bank in Canadian waters! I was super stoked that the transients were back in, as I had not seen them in a while. We had beautiful smooth water as we traveled north from Friday Harbor, and the scenery was just as gorgeous. We got to see some great feeding behavior, as the transients munched down on what looked to be a harbor seal. Transients eat solely marine mammals, with harbor seals making up right around 60% of their diet. We also got to see the orcas travelling a bit! We enjoyed the scenery on the way back and I personally really enjoyed getting to know our guests on board today!

Naturalist Sarah, M/V Kittiwake, San Juan Safaris

Transients in Rosario Strait

Saturday, July 19th, 2014

Saturday morning started a little rainy, and windy with no reports of whales. Naturalists Chelsea and Caitlin were a little concerned as we were leaving Friday Harbor. But soon after leaving we got a radio call from some whale watching boats that were out earlier and there were some transients in Rosario Strait heading toward Decatur Island! Hurray! We haven’t seen transients in quite some time so we were excited. Transients killer whales are the ecotype that feed mainly on marine mammals. Here in the Salish Sea they eat harbor seals and harbor porpoises.  As we made it out to the group it stopped raining and the sun came out, and the whales were on a hunt. They were swimming quickly and making rapid dives in one specific area. Most of the time the whales will just hold their prey beneath the surface until it drowns.

It was awesome to have the whales so active at the surface. It was a decent size group of 7, which is bigger than the average pod of transients. All in all it was a great encounter and the sun made the afternoon trip even sweeter. Hope the action continues with the evening trip!

Naturalist Chelsea

M/V Sea Lion

San Juan Safaris


Wonderful Day On the Water!

Friday, July 18th, 2014

Today we left Friday Harbor and headed South toward Cattle Point.  On the way to the area where the whale reports were we spotted some harbor seals with their pups and  a bald eagle.  We went through Cattle Pass and headed East to the southern side of Lopez Island.  Once we got to Iceberg Island we found the J17′s which include Princess Angeline and all of her offspring.  Traveling with the J17′s was K21 (Cappuccin).  We parked ourselves a respectful distance from the whale and allowed them to travel West past us as we watched them with our motor off.  We also got passed by the J22′s, better known as the cookie clan!  The whales were all headed West toward Salmon Bank.  We followed the whales to the South side of San Juan Island and then they began to relax and start milling around the area.  We saw some surface activity as well include tail slapping, cartwheels and breaching!  We then headed back to Friday Harbor and on the way we saw a juvenile bald eagle in flight.  Juvenile bald eagles commonly get confused with golden eagles due to their brown coloration.  It takes about 4-5 years for an eagle to get the adult plumage, consisting of the white head and tail feathers.  We had a perfect day for photography on the water.  There was a slight overcast and calm waters allowing for great quality pictures.  Our guests enjoyed their time on the water almost as much as we enjoyed having them!

Naturalist Rachel

M/V Sea Lion, San Juan Safaris

Whales, wonderful whales!

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

Today Captain Mike and I had a beautiful cruise all the way around San Juan Island. We left Friday Harbor heading north with a report of orcas in Boundary Pass. We met up with a group of J Pod whales just north of Roche Harbor… AND they turned out to be my favorite family, the J16s! Slick, Mike, Alki and Echo are inseparable, a perfect example of the social structure of these amazing mammals! We spent some time with them and then left that group to follow a report of another group of orcas farther south along the west side of the island. We arrived on scene with a group of about four individuals from K Pod, and had the whales to ourselves! We even got to see some mating behavior! The water was beautifully smooth and everyone aboard had a wonderful time!

Naturalist Sarah, M/V Kittiwake, San Juan Safaris Whale Watching

Fantastic Day Filled With Orcas and Humpacks….And A Tufted Puffin!

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

We had fantastic weather and wildlife viewing today aboard our afternoon M/V Sea Lion trip.  We found our resident orcas, humpbacks, minkes, stellar sea lions, and even a tufted puffin! We headed to Salmon Bank and found J pod cruising the waters looking for food and were even lucky enough to witness some mating behaviors, and followed them along the west side of San Juan Island.  After an incredible show from J pod we came across a mom and calf humpback whale, and the calf was extremely playful.  We had repeated spyhops from the little calf as it played with the kelp patties!!! Quite a treat.  On our way in we spotted several stellar sea lions sunning themselves in the warm mid afternoon sun.  While watching the sea lions we even had a surprise minke visit.  Then we started cruising back, and just when we didn’t think we could possibly spot anything more exciting we spotted a tufted puffin, perched beside in the San Juan channel.  What a trip!!


Caitlin, Naturalist

San Juan Safaris, M/V Sea Lion

Whales in Boundary Pass!

Monday, July 14th, 2014

Another beautiful summer day here in the San Juan Islands, not a cloud in the sky and we able to spy some amazing views of Mount Baker as well. Our 1:30pm departure left with reports of whales up north, traveling north, and we caught up to the group in Boundary Pass pretty much on the border of US and Canada. There was a large group of K pod traveling close together and some members of Jpod inshore foraging. We were able to get some great looks at the  J14s Slick, Mike, Alki, and Echo. At one point we had whales on both side of the boat and gave each and every guest a front row seat! The trip concluded with some harbor seal, and harbor porpoise sightings along with a great view of an eagle just outside of its nest!! Summer is really treating us well here in the San Juan’s!!


Naturalist Chelsea

M/V Sealion

San Juan Safaris