Archive for the ‘orca whale watching by seattle’ Category

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

The Thunder Rolls And The Orcas Strike!

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014

AMAZING DAY ON THE WATER! We had rain, we had thunder, and most importantly we had a whole bunch of whales! It was a true Pacific Northwest day with lots and lots of whales. We met up with all of K pod and some members of J Pod. It was an amazing opportunity to see these whales moving together along the westside, but also to be surrounded by mother nature at its finest. Thunder rolling in the background, with whale blows in the distance, all in all it was an excellent day to be out on the water. Aside from a strong desire for some dry clothes, and a hot chocolate, everyone left with a smile on their faces as they were departing the M/V Sea Lion.

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