Archive for the ‘orca whale watching by seattle’ Category

Transients out in San Juan Channel

Saturday, August 9th, 2014

It was busy out in San Juan Channel today with the 44th annual Shaw Island Classic Yacht Races, but it was definitely a great day for a sail and even a whale watch! For many of the sailors out there and our lucky guests, we were afforded some incredible looks at our Transient Killer Whales. Only ten minutes out of the harbor and we were already watching the Transient Orcas making their way back towards Friday Harbor. At one point they took a quick turn towards the inside passage of Turn Island. This added a bit of confusion for boats watching, but was a perfect opportunity to possibly pick off some unsuspecting harbor seals relaxing in the kelp beds. Once through the passage they headed for the shallows of Shaw Island. At this point their behavior changed drastically to tight-knit circling behavior that is very indicative of holding their prey underwater. I’m sure if we were able to stick around longer we may have even witnessed the celebratory behavior that is commonly associated with a kill. All in all it was a great whale watch right out in our front door. Never a dull moment with our Transients.


Naturalist, San Juan Safaris, M/V Kittiwake

K Pod at Turn Point!

Saturday, August 9th, 2014

We left Friday Harbor yesterday with reports of resident orcas heading North by Stewart Island.  We decided to meet the whales at Turn point and headed the back way behind Spieden Island.  We met the whales at Turn Point and we were pleasantly surprised to see all of Kpod grouped together in a small area.  Every member of Kpod was there with the exception of K21 (Cappuccino), which includes a total of 18 whales! K21 generally travels with different southern resident families from J and L pod.  We watched the K pod members constantly breathing in synchronization!  It was a really great experience to see a whole pod of the southern resident community in such close quarters.  On our way back to Friday harbor we went to the cactus islands and saw quite a few harbor seals swimming around as well as some great looks at about 4 bald eagles.  Including a bald eagle that took off in flight!  All in all it was an absolutely perfect day out on the water and I don’t think our guests could have had a better trip.

Naturalist Rachel

M/V Sea Lion, San Juan Safaris

Resident Orcas traveling through Haro Strait-Thursday August 7th

Friday, August 8th, 2014

M/V Sea Lion departed Friday Harbor at 5:30pm and we traveled south through cattle pass. Guests were in for an adventure moving through four foot rolling waves! Once around the south end of the island, we encountered commercial fishing boats, so Captain Pete had to be on the lookout for nets in the water! Once we made it through all of that, we immediately spotted Orcas off False Bay. We encountered K-pod male, Cappuccino, searching for salmon. We also were able to see several other k-pod members playing with one another. Towards the end of our time with them, a younger orca started to breach! We ended our trip circumnavigating around San Juan Island!


Naturalist, M/V Sea Lion, San Juan Safaris Whale Watch & Wildlife Tours

Travels to Canada for Transients

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

Today we had a gorgeous day on the M/V Kittiwake travelling up into Canadian waters to find a pod of transient orcas. These whales eat marine mammals, with harbor seals making up the majority of their diet. A male killer whale can eat over 400 pounds of food a day! We enjoyed watching a group of five individuals meandering up near Active Pass. Not only a great day with no fog, but also a great group on the boat!

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

Stellar Seal Lions and WHALES!

Monday, August 4th, 2014

Another beautiful sunny day here in the San Juan Islands. We spent both of our trips on the west side and south side of San Juan Island with a mixture of J and K pod. It was nice to have the resident whales back in the area after they not being around this weekend. We spent most of the time watching the whales spread out  foraging. We even got a close look at the K14s and were able to identify K14, Lea and her 3 offspring Lobo, Yoda, and Kelp.

On our way home we saw over 15 Stellar Sea Lions! These animals are huge!! The males can be over 2000 lbs. We saw many on the rocks, and in the water. This is the most we have seen all season because they are just returning to this area from their Alaskan breeding ground.

Great day on the water, can’t wait for tomorrow.

Naturalist Chelsea

M/V Sealion

San Juan Safaris.

Transients on the kill!

Monday, August 4th, 2014

We left Friday Harbor in preparation for a great trip! We headed North towards East point with reports of transient in the area.  We have seen a lot of transients in the area lately due to the seal pupping season.  Harbor seals make up about 60% of transient orcas diet that come into this area.  We came across the T37′s around Sucia island.  We watched the transients hunting around Sucia Island for quite some time and even saw a few kills! We headed back to Friday harbor with a beautiful trip under our belt!

Naturalist Rachel

M/V Sea Lion, San Juan Safaris

Transients Galore!

Friday, August 1st, 2014

Today we left Friday Harbor with reports of transients ours by Waldron Island.  Transient orca are the marine mammal eating ecotype of orca that we see in this area.  On the way to the orca reports we came across a few harbor porpoise.  We pulled up to the area where the 6 transient orcas were reported to be and immediately saw a lone harbor seal in the area.  We watched the harbor seal go under the water and then saw the transient orcas dive as well.  After they spent a few minutes under the water the orcas resurfaced with the dead seal in their mouth.  It was as if the orcas were showing our boat that they had just killed the seal!  After the display of their meal they then became very surface active and started tail slapping and breaching all over the place!  After watching the feeding celebration we headed towards another group of 3 transients in Presidents Channel.  There was a juvenile in the group of transients at presidents channel who was being very playful and breaching frequently.  As a naturalist I can safely say that this was the best day I have had on the water to date!

Naturalist Rachel

M/V Sea Lion, San Juan Safaris

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!


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