Archive for the ‘orca whale watching by seattle’ Category

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

Residents back on the west side this evening!

Sunday, July 20th, 2014

Woo! After a few days without our residents I was feeling a little separation anxiety from them. Not that our whale watches haven’t been awesome with the transients but I was missing the regular residents. As we headed out on our 5:30pm sunset whale watch we heard the reports that a mixture of J, K, and L pods were heading our way from Victoria! The whales booked it our way and we caught up with them around Eagle Point and traveled north with them all the way past Lime Kiln to Andrews Bay. Along the way we watched them porpoise and travel speeds close to 10 knots!! We got some nice close looks at the J14s, and many other whales that were moving too fast to get a confirmed ID. It was a beautiful trip and we got to circumnavigate San Juan Island.

Naturalist Chelsea

M/V Sea Lion

San Juan Safaris

Transients North of the Border!

Sunday, July 20th, 2014

Captain Jim and I got to the Kittiwake this morning with zero reports of whales. We were planning out an awesome wildlife tour where we would be looking for the orcas, other whales, and some of the other wildlife in the area, when we got a call that there were transient orcas north of Sucia Island and Alden Bank in Canadian waters! I was super stoked that the transients were back in, as I had not seen them in a while. We had beautiful smooth water as we traveled north from Friday Harbor, and the scenery was just as gorgeous. We got to see some great feeding behavior, as the transients munched down on what looked to be a harbor seal. Transients eat solely marine mammals, with harbor seals making up right around 60% of their diet. We also got to see the orcas travelling a bit! We enjoyed the scenery on the way back and I personally really enjoyed getting to know our guests on board today!

Naturalist Sarah, M/V Kittiwake, San Juan Safaris

Transients in Rosario Strait

Saturday, July 19th, 2014

Saturday morning started a little rainy, and windy with no reports of whales. Naturalists Chelsea and Caitlin were a little concerned as we were leaving Friday Harbor. But soon after leaving we got a radio call from some whale watching boats that were out earlier and there were some transients in Rosario Strait heading toward Decatur Island! Hurray! We haven’t seen transients in quite some time so we were excited. Transients killer whales are the ecotype that feed mainly on marine mammals. Here in the Salish Sea they eat harbor seals and harbor porpoises.  As we made it out to the group it stopped raining and the sun came out, and the whales were on a hunt. They were swimming quickly and making rapid dives in one specific area. Most of the time the whales will just hold their prey beneath the surface until it drowns.

It was awesome to have the whales so active at the surface. It was a decent size group of 7, which is bigger than the average pod of transients. All in all it was a great encounter and the sun made the afternoon trip even sweeter. Hope the action continues with the evening trip!

Naturalist Chelsea

M/V Sea Lion

San Juan Safaris

 

Wonderful Day On the Water!

Friday, July 18th, 2014

Today we left Friday Harbor and headed South toward Cattle Point.  On the way to the area where the whale reports were we spotted some harbor seals with their pups and  a bald eagle.  We went through Cattle Pass and headed East to the southern side of Lopez Island.  Once we got to Iceberg Island we found the J17′s which include Princess Angeline and all of her offspring.  Traveling with the J17′s was K21 (Cappuccin).  We parked ourselves a respectful distance from the whale and allowed them to travel West past us as we watched them with our motor off.  We also got passed by the J22′s, better known as the cookie clan!  The whales were all headed West toward Salmon Bank.  We followed the whales to the South side of San Juan Island and then they began to relax and start milling around the area.  We saw some surface activity as well include tail slapping, cartwheels and breaching!  We then headed back to Friday Harbor and on the way we saw a juvenile bald eagle in flight.  Juvenile bald eagles commonly get confused with golden eagles due to their brown coloration.  It takes about 4-5 years for an eagle to get the adult plumage, consisting of the white head and tail feathers.  We had a perfect day for photography on the water.  There was a slight overcast and calm waters allowing for great quality pictures.  Our guests enjoyed their time on the water almost as much as we enjoyed having them!

Naturalist Rachel

M/V Sea Lion, San Juan Safaris