Archive for the ‘orca whale watching by seattle’ Category

Mr. Floppy Fin and Friends on the Eastside of Blakely Island

Monday, September 1st, 2014

The most noticeable of our transients, Mr. Floppy Fin, T-19B, was in the area with four of his compadres. These five whales appeared to be on the hunt for their most beloved found source, harbor seals. However, when a lone harbor seal surfaced close to the boat with no care in the world it was apparent that these Transients had other things on their mind- most likely sleep. These whales can travel up to 100 miles a day and are constantly themoregulating in these frigid 48 degree waters. With environmental strains like these it can be tough to fit in a full nights snooze. To compensate for this lack of a set bedtime, these whales have adapted to taking naps in intervals throughout the day. These marine mammals are capable of resting certain portions of their brain, while leaving other portions alert! Pretty handy trick- wish I was capable of that some days. Whether it be sleeping or hunting, it is always quite the experience to see these whales surfacing in the distance. Hope these whales stick around for a few days!



San Juan Safaris, M/V Sea Lion

Cookie clan!

Saturday, August 30th, 2014

M/V Kittiwake got to spend the afternoon up close and personal with the J22s also known as the cookie clan. The matriarch J22 Oreo and her two offspring Double Stuff and Cookie, and adopted niece Rhapsody. Rhapsody was orphaned by her mother when she was just two years old and was left in the care of her grandmother, then her grandmother passed so Auntie Oreo took over and raised Rhapsody and Double stuff at the same time. Just a short story about the depth of the social connections these animals make.

The trip was awesome with calm water and sunny skies on the west side of San Juan Island. We also got to spot some Dalls porpoise, Stellar seal lions, Harbor seal, and many sea birds.

Naturalist Chelsea

M/V Kittiwake

San Juan Safaris

Whale Bliss!

Friday, August 29th, 2014

We had a wonderful day on the water with some very goofy southern resident killer whales! We saw a mixture of J and K pods playing, rolling and breaching in Haro Strait. We saw a number of spyhops today as well. Killer whales have excellent eyesight, very much like our own, but they can only see about three feet above the water when they are under. In order to survey their surroundings they will spyhop, sticking their heads out of the water. We had a wonderful time enjoying the whales’ antics. Captain Mike, Chelsea, and I loved having such a wonderful group aboard today!

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

Transient Fun!

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

Today Captain Pete, Tyler and I headed out for a blustery day on Haro Strait. We headed North around San Juan Island and met up with a beautiful group of transient killer whales in the middle of the strait right on the US/Canadian border. Transients eat marine mammals (basically anything that we think is cute and cuddly) with harbor seals making up about 60% of their diet. Today we were fortunate enough to see the T37s and the T137As. We can identify individuals whales by looking at the markings and scars around their dorsal fins. Transients, because they eat animals that fight back, tend to be more scarred than the resident killer whales, who just eat salmon. We finished the trip with a good look at a bald eagle and some harbor seals around Spieden Island. It was another amazing day on the Salish Sea!

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


Thursday, August 28th, 2014

Yesterday we left Friday harbor with the reports of transient orcas far south.  We were taking the long trek towards where the transients were when they decided to pick up speed moving south, making them out of our reach.  At that point we decided to turn around and look for some Minke whales in salmon bank.  We got some great looks at some Minkes and even got to see one lung feeding!  We then headed over to long island and looked at a huge bald eagles nest.  On average a bald eagles nest will get 8 feet wide and 6 feet deep.  We then headed to the whale rocks and saw some stellar sea lions socializing in the water!  As we were leaving the whale rocks we were surprised by some reports of orcas in the area!  We decided to go for it!  We were looking hard for the orcas when we found J26 (Mike) and got some great looks at him before we had to head back to the dock.  We had an exhilarating day out on the water and everyone seemed to enjoy the wide range of animals we got to see!

Naturalist Rachel

M/V Sea Lion, San Juan Safaris

Transients At Our Front Door!

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

Another magical day on the water, and this was even closer to home than usual! M/V Sea Lion motored out of Friday Harbor for a mere 10 minutes before we were greeted with the sight of blows in the distance. The blows belonged to non-other than the T-65A’s, a mom and her offspring, that were combing the east side of the island for some tasty treats. It appeared that this was no problem for our marine-mammal eating orcas, since we saw a Harbor porpoise propel itself out of the water to escape it’s underwater predators. We never did see the Harbor Porpoise surface again, but we did see some tight circling behavior with loads of tail slaps, and even an adorable head stand from the youngest of the T-65A’s. The youngest was first seen March 27th, 2014! It looked like quite the feast for these transient orcas, and also a great show for guests aboard the M/V Sea Lion! Absolute success! Hope tomorrow will be just as eventful.



Naturalist, M/V Sea Lion

San Juan Safaris

Whales in Haro Strait

Sunday, August 24th, 2014

Perfect, warm, and sunny day today in Friday Harbor barely even a breeze in the air. The lack of wind makes it quite warm in Friday Harbor but we knew that it meant good things for our trip. Captain Jim took us north on the Kittiwake to catch up with some whales that were also heading north in Haro Strait. We caught up with them at Kellet Bluff on Henry Island. We got reports from some of the other boats that we were viewing the entire K pod, which is 19 whales. They were very spread out and foraging, the whales were literally spread out the entire Haro Strait from San Juan Island to the Canadian Gulf Islands. We got to spend some quality time with the K13s, which is one of my favorite matriarchal lines because they have unique saddle patches that are fairly easy to identify. The saddle patch is a whitish, grey marking that is just below the dorsal fin on the whales back that is used like the whales “finger print.”

We left the whales and headed home through the Cactus Islands and got to spot a few harbor seals, harbor porpoise and even a mating pair of bald eagles. Beautiful day for a boat cruise in the San Juan Islands.


Naturalist Chelsea

M/V Kittiwake

San Juan Safaris

Orca Chess Match!

Saturday, August 23rd, 2014

Today Captain Jim and I set out on the M/V Kittiwake with two reports of orcas: one of transients to the north, and one of residents to the south. Oftentimes we joke that deciding where to go is a like a chess match…. the whales will make one move and then we have to respond. We are a member of the Pacific Whale Watch Association, so we are in constant communication with other captains on the water getting the most current information about the whale’s movement, which aids in decision making. Today we opted for the southern route to meet up with the resident whales. On the way out to meet up with the whales we encountered some Steller’s sea lions. These pinnipeds can weigh over 2,000 pounds, and are just returning from their breeding grounds in Alaska. After observing the sea lions for a few minutes, we traveled across Haro Strait to meet up with J-pod just outside of Victoria. It was great to see the “ressies” again after a few days of watching transients! The whales were being very playful… spyhopping, breaching out of the water, and breathing all together! J2 “Granny” (She’s estimated to be 103 years old, cool, right!!!???!!!) was right in the middle of the pod having a grand old time. We spent about 45 wonderful minutes with the joyful whales, and everyone on board was absolutely enthralled! We left to head back to Friday Harbor and ended up finding a minke whale! They are the second smallest species of baleen whale, and we got to see it feeding! Overall, it was an amazing day on the water and everyone agreed that we had definitely played a good chess game!

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

K pod intact

Thursday, August 21st, 2014

The fog cleared around 1pm, which was perfect for our 1:30pm departure on M/V Sea lion leaving Friday Harbor. We headed south because we had reports of whales near False Bay.  By the time we caught up with the whales they were passed Lime Kiln on the west side of San Juan Island. We had a great afternoon watching K pod fully intact, and traveling close together. It was awesome to see 19 whales so close together and they even gave us a close swim by and checked out the guests onboard. We headed home through Mosquito Pass and passed Roche Harbor and spotted a few bald eagles and harbor seals.


All in all a great day!

Naturalist Chelsea

M/V Sealion

Granny and her family!

Sunday, August 17th, 2014

Yesterday afternoon we left Friday harbor and headed south towards reports of whales on the South side of San Juan Island.  On our way down to that area we stopped to look at some huge stellar sea lions.  Did you know that male stellar sea lions get up to 2,000 pounds?  Once we got a good look at those sea lions we headed around the south side of San Juan Island and came across the J2′s.  The J2′s are Granny’s family and all of her living descendants.  The group includes J2 (Granny), her granddaughter J14 (Samish), her great-granddaughters J37 (Hy’Shqa), J45 (Se-Yi’-Chn), and her great-great-grandson J49 (T’ilem I’nges).  We also were surprised by some pacific white sided dolphins as well!  The dolphins were seen riding in our boats wake and leaping out of the water frequently!  We enjoyed watching J2 and her family interact and forage for the day.  When the day started out we had quite a bit of fog in the area but thankfully in burned up and gave us a great afternoon out on the water.

Naturalist Rachel

M/V Sea Lion, San Juan Safaris