Archive for the ‘orca whale watching by seattle’ Category

Orcas, Minkes, Seals, and Sea Lions!

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

This morning we had early reports of the K14s traveling along the west side of San Juan Island. We had a morning trip and were excited to get going. Captain Jim took myself and our guests south in order to encounter the orcas. Along the way our guests were able to enjoy Harbor Seals and Northern Sea Lions! Once we got to the Orcas, guests were able to see an adult male and a young male swimming side by side! It appeared as though this family group was just traveling and searching for food. Captain Jim then heard of a report of a Minke whale close by and we decided to go check it out! Guests were able to see some great lunge feeding behaviors from this Minke. This type of whale is a baleen whale so they are able to expand their throat and engulf a lot of water which has the food they are looking for. After getting some great views of the Minke we went to take once last look at the Orcas, Harbor Seals, and Northern Sea Lions! Once getting back to the dock, the guests were very happy about all the wildlife they were able to encounter!

 

Aimee
Naturalist, M/V Kittiwake, San Juan Safaris Whale Watch & Wildlife Tours

K 14s in Haro!

Wednesday, July 30th, 2014

Today on M/V Kittiwake we headed north because there were reports of whales heading south From Boundary Pass. On our way to Stuart Island we stopped off Spieden island and watched some harbor seals with their pups and got a great look at a mature bald eagle high in the trees. We made It just north of  Henry Island a saw a group of 4 orcas heading our way. It’s was the k14s! K 14 is the matriarch of this group and she was traveling with here 3 offspring. We got some great looks at her (K14) and her mature son Lobo (K 26). They were foraging and traveling most of the time. It was a great whale encounter! We headed home and were lucky enough to see 6 more bald eagles and a gaggle of seals! It was a wildlife filled afternoon!

Naturalist Chelsea

M/V Kittiwake

San Juan Safaris

The best kind of whale watching!

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

Today was one of those amazing days where we had warm summer sun, flat glassy water, and southern resident killer whales all around! Guests headed out on the M/V Sea Lion headed out of Friday Harbor today and went to the southwest side of San Juan Island. The whales were very spread out, constant with foraging behavior. Captain Brian decided that the best way to watch these whales would be to shut our motor off and drift. If we were patient, we should get some awesome encounters, and that’s just what happened!

We saw many matrilines of killer whales as they passed by our shut down boat in search of there favorite food, Chinook Salmon. They were doing what we call the “west side shuffle”, feeding up and down the south end of San Juan Island. We got several close encounters by the passerby’s.  I can’t tell you how good it felt to literally only motor up once while watching these whales for the duration that we were on seen with killer whales. This way, when they came close to us, it was there choice entirely. We got some awesome vies of the J Pod and K Pod members including J22 (mom), J34, J28, K 20 (mom), and K38 (who was trying his hardest to catch the fist he was chasing off our bow at one point)! Everyone was commenting on how nice it was to be able to hear the whales, and get grate views while not impacting them in the slightest! What a great trip!!

Heather, Naturalist, M/V Sea Lion

San Juan Safaris

Sunny Sunday with WHALES!

Sunday, July 27th, 2014

Today Captain Mike, Aimee and I started the day off with a lively charter out of Roche Harbor! We brought the M/V Sea Lion up from Friday Harbor to pick up a wonderful group. After a couple of days of no killer whales, it was awesome to see the Residents back in the Salish Sea. Oftentimes guests ask us when the whales will get to a certain area at a certain time, and no one can really answer that! The whales don’t work on the same time frame as we do, they work completely on salmon time! Residents eat only salmon and their movements are completely dictated by the presence, absence and movements of the salmon. We got to see many whales frolicking around Boundary Pass today, but most notably the K13 matriline and for the first time this season the L54s!!! We had a blast out on the water with such a festive group of whales and people!

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

Residents in the Strait of Juan De Fuca!

Sunday, July 27th, 2014

This evening we headed out towards Victoria to see some reported resident orcas in the area.  We headed out and saw some harbor seals as well as a bald eagle in Cattle Pass.  We headed around the South side of San Juan Island.  We came upon the resident orcas near Victoria where we saw part of K pod!  Specifically we were looking at the K13′s with are made up of K13 (Skagit), her offspring and her grand-offspring.  This immediate family is made up of 7 different individual whales.  We watched them traveling towards San Juan Island and displaying some surface activity as well.  We saw a few spyhops while watching the K13′s, which is personally my favorite surface behavior!  After watching the whales for a while we headed back towards Friday Harbor.  On the way back we stopped at an area called the Whale Rocks where we saw a large male stellar sea lion.  A fully grown male stellar sea lion can weigh up to 2000 pounds!  It was a beautiful evening out on the water and we really enjoyed seeing the guests excitement while watching the southern resident orcas.

Naturalist Rachel

M/V Sea Lion, San Juan Safaris

Humpback Party!

Friday, July 25th, 2014

This evening we left Friday Harbor with reports of humpbacks down by Victoria.  We headed down San Juan Channel into the Strait of Juan De Fuca.  On the way out we saw some harbor seals as well as some cormorants.  Cormorants are a diving species of bird that we see in this area.  They actually have the ability to dive over 100 feet in order to catch fish.  We traveled quite a distance but we then found a large group of humpbacks!  We were watching a group of 8 humpback whales including a mother and calf pair.  Generally baleen whales are considered solitary so it was truly a special sight to see so many humpbacks grouped together.  We watched the humpbacks for a while and then headed back towards Friday Harbor.  On the way back we got to see a beautiful sunset!  It was really a special evening out on the water.

Naturalist Rachel

M/V Sea Lion, San Juan Safaris

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

Whales even in the rain!

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

Wednesday was not a typical summery day but the whales didn’t seem to mind. We headed north out of Friday Harbor on M/ Sea lion   and caught up with whales through Mosquito Pass at Kellet Bluff on Henry Island. We had a decent group of J pod traveling north. We even got some really great, close looks at J2, Granny!!! J2 is the lead matriarch of the southern resident community and is estimated to be 103 Years old!!! She was traveling just outside of the whales that are thought to be her family which includes J49 which is her great-great grandchild! The whales gave us an awesome encounter with a lot of surface time. Our guests were all troopers, and great sports for putting up with the rain but it ended up being a successful day on the water! Always a new adventure to be had out here in the San Juans!

 

Naturalist

M/V Sea lion

San Juan Safaris

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