Archive for the ‘orca whale watching by seattle’ Category

Whales on the west side!

Monday, July 14th, 2014

Today we got to take out a group of  12 people out on one of  our smaller vessels which gives a nice, different view point of the whales. The M/V  Kittiwake sits lower to the water so it feels like we are on the same plane as the whales. We spent most of the trip near Eagle point, and False Bay watching the Southern Resident killer whales. It seemed to be a mixture of all three pods, J, K, and L. It was a little bit rough out there but our guest were champs, and we had an awesome show from the whales!


M/V Kittiwake

Naturalist Chelsea

K pod madness!!!

Sunday, July 13th, 2014

Sunday July 13th was a another beautiful day in the Salish sea and we spent 2 great trips with k pod on the west side and south side of San Juan Island. On both trips we got some great sightings of the k13s Skagit and her offspring  and grandchildren. It was awesome for our guests to see the whales fishing and pretty much swimming back and for along the shoreline the entire trip.  That wasn’t the only wildlife we saw!  As we were heading home we got to spotted a male stellar seal nearly full grown! These guys can be huge, and weigh close to 2500 pounds!!!!

It has been great to have Kpod stick around so much the last couple of weeks to get some quality time with them! Hope they are here tomorrow!!


M/v Sea Lion


K Pod travels south at high speeds!

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

What a day!! I really couldn’t have asked for a prettier San Juan island afternoon and evening: sunny sky’s, warm weather, great people, oh,  and of course killer whales. The M/V Sea Lion met K pod traveling south from Stewart Island. As soon as we got on scene one came out of the water in a full breach!! You just never know what you’re going to see when orcas are involved, lucky for us!

We turned the motor off and watched as members of K Pod traveled south, porpoising out of the water at high speeds! For some reason, when these whales are coming down from a Fraser River run (to feed on that Chinook Salmon), they always seem to kick it in high gear in between Stewart and Henry Island. When killer whales are traveling at high speeds, the most effective means of travel is by doing this proposing behavior. It’s amazing to watch the water streaming off their body! We saw breaches, tail slaps, and even some spyhopping. K12 (Sequim) was there along with her offspring, K22, K37, and K43. We always love seeing this family! I can’t wait to get out there today!


Heather, Naturalist, M/V Sea Lion

San Juan Safaris Orca Whale Watching

Transient Whales!

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

Alright folks, today was the trip of all trips! I absolutely love the southern resident community whales, but I must say that watching the Transients has to be my favorite. You just never know what you will get when you are watching the transient foraging for marine mammals.

The M/V Sea Lion and passengers first encountered T-35 A’s and T-75 B’s,  along the Eastside of San Juan Island and quickly followed them up towards Canadian waters. For most of the trip they seemed to be moving together and possibly have prey underneath the surface. There seemed to be lots of circling and close movements that could be beneficial is trying to keep their prey from reaching the surface for a quick breath. After about 20 to 3o minutes of this type of activity, we were surprised by two harbor porpoises rocketing themselves out of the water for a fast breath, some 400 yds away from the transient orcas. After that we didn’t see the porpoise again, but we did see a quick change in direction for our orcas. They seemed to have headed in the same direction as where the porpoises fled the scene.  Within two minutes from this happening, gulls started to flock towards the surface of the water in the same spot as the whales had been surfacing. It is likely what we witnessed on board was the last ditch effort for the porpoises, but with 6 adult transients hot on their tail it is unlikely that they made an escape.

Definitely an interesting and amazing day spent on the water. It is always incredible to see the orcas work together to take down prey. Definitely never a dull moment with Transient orcas! Hopefully tomorrow holds just as much excitement!


Caitlin, Naturalist

San Juan Safaris, M/V Sea Lion

Happy Whales!

Monday, July 7th, 2014

Howdy from a very sunny and warm Friday Harbor!

This afternoon we had an awesome trip out on the Salish Sea. We left the harbor and immediately had a bald eagle fly over our boat, and a little while later we had an eagle fishing right off the bow! Eagles cannot retract their talons once they have sunk them into a fish, so they have to be careful about the size of fish that they attempt to catch. A fish that is too large might pull the eagle under the water, so they are very selective! After going south around Cattle Point we caught up with some orcas on Salmon Bank. We spent some time with that group and then left them to catch up with another reported group on the west side of San Juan Island. We arrived on scene and Naturalist Heather and I were very excited to see two of our very favorite mother/calf pairs: Deadhead (K27) & Ripple (K44), and Spock (K20) & Comet (K38). We had some very nice looks at the whales and even had a chance to drop our hydrophone in the water to hear the whales vocalizing all around us! Each pod in the Southern Resident community has a different vocalization pattern, so you can identify different pods based upon the unique sounds that they make!

It doesn’t get better than beautiful weather and happy whales!

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



Sunday, July 6th, 2014

July 6th was an epic day here in the San Juan Islands! The afternoon trip was glorious as we headed to the reports of the southern residents and we spotted a humpback whale! We got a few awesome looks and got to see some sweet fluke up dives. We caught up with Jpod near Stuart Island. We got to see J2 Granny our 103 year old whale and L 87 Onyx who spends most of his time with Jpod. This was a great start to the day!

The evening trip was rocking too! We headed west this time and ran into a mixture of J, K, and L pod and they were excited. The water was mirror like and we saw a bunch of breaches and spy hops! The whales were pretty spread out so we got to spend some quality time with many different whales. As we headed home to Friday harbor we spotted that humpback again! With  a few surfacings and a couple of dives we continued on and we spotted a minke!!! We hit the trifecta of whales! Orcas, humpback and a minke whale! Wow, that doesn’t happen everyday and our guests and Naturalist were so excited! Let’s hope the month of July continues with action!


San Juan Safaris

M/V Sea lion

Naturalist Chelsea

Celebrities …

Sunday, July 6th, 2014
After the amazing encounters that we had yesterday, I wasn’t sure the trip today would be able to compare, but boy was I wrong! When we first headed out, we had an awesome surprise: a  juvenile humpback surface a couple hundred yards in the distance by Roche Harbor. It went about feeding and showing us lovely fluke patterns. The Humpback ended up circumnavigating San Juan Island. These whales can eat up to two ton of food a day!
It didn’t take us long before the M/V Kittiwake was on scene with killer whales in the northern part of Haro Strait entering into Boundary Pass. The first two whales we saw happened to be none other than J2 and L87! J2 is somewhat of a celebrity in these waters, her name is Granny, and she’s an estimated 103 years old!! L87 is her faithful companion and is always close by. Along with J2 and L87 we saw the J14 matriline. J Pod crossed Boundary Pass and was headed north up Swanson’s Channel when we left them. Today was just a great day! Beautiful scenery, humpback whales, killer whales, harbor porpoise, bald eagles, seals etc. We got to see just about everything to see today!
Heather, Naturalist, M/V Kittiwake
San Juan Safaris Orca Whale Watching


Saturday, July 5th, 2014

I saw more whales breaching today than any other whale watch I have ever been on!  Just off the southern west side of San Juan Island we were able to witness the super pod greeting ceremony of the southern resident killer whales. This super pod is referring to J , K, and L pods being in one area where they come back together in a place with a high density of food ( chinook salmon) to potentially breed and share knowledge and customs. But what does this mean for a whale watching boat? Lots of surface activity!!!! We saw so many breaches, cartwheels, tail slaps, and just general splashing, our guests didn’t even know which way to look! This is definitely a day that naturalists live for and I am so happy I was on the water today! Hopefully the whales will still be around tomorrow!!!


San Juan Safaris

M/V Sea lion

Naturalit Chelsea

K Pod Back In Action!

Friday, July 4th, 2014

The M/V Sea Lion and Kittiwake left Friday Harbor today with great reports of killer whales off the west side of San Juan Island. What was so great about this report you ask? The reports were of one of our resident pods that was thought to have left the night before: K Pod! We have only seen K Pod in this area for the last three days. For over a month now these whales have been MIA, or missing in action. They have finally gotten the memo that the Chinook Salmon, there favorite food source (rich in fatty omega-3′s), are finally coming into the Salish Sea in large enough numbers to make it worth the 80 mile swim into our waters. These salmon are smelling their way to the Fraser River, and up to their natal stream-bed to spawn. I can’t tell you how nice it is to have those familiar dorsal fins and saddle patches in these waters once again.

We soon caught up with members of K Pod off the west side of San Juan Island. They were quite spread out, fishing. We watched K33- Tika, a juvenile male, swim round and round many times trying to catch the salmon he was chasing! Ironically,  his name has Chinook origins meaning “swift.” Tika always stays very close to mom. Having said that, it wasn’t long before Sikiu, K22 surfaced close by. That was the first time I had seen K33 up close since last summer, and he has grown! I almost didn’t recognize him! Some of the J17 matriline were in the mix with K’s as well, including J28 and J46. After watching those whales for a little while, one whale was incing closer and closer. Usually, killer whales only surface 3-5 times and go down for another dive. However, K26, Lobo (21 years of age), surfaced about ten times, giving us spectacular views of his beautifully symmetrical dorsal fin! It is SO nice to have these guys back again!!

Heather, Naturalist,  M/V Sea Lion

San Juan Safaris Orca Whale Watching

Whale Search!

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

Today we arrived at the M/V Sea Lion with a report of Resident orcas traveling quickly to the southwest. Naturalist Aimee, Captain Pete and I consulted and decided that we would try to catch up with them! Orcas can swim over 100 miles in a single day and can reach speeds in excess of 35 miles per hour. We had a great group on board today who were very excited to be out on the water. We all were hoping that the orcas stayed close enough so that we could catch up with them!

On the way out to the reported orcas we took a slight detour to see a humpback whale! Humpbacks were once plentiful in this area, but were extirpated when the area was heavily whaled. It has only been within the last two decades that humpbacks have begun returning. We reached the orcas just in time to witness the most breaches I have seen on a trip yet this season. The whales definitely put on a show for the boat! Guests were certainly left extremely impressed with the whales’ acrobatics. On the way back to Friday Harbor we got to see some harbor seals and porpoises. Overall it was another amazing day on the Salish Sea!

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