Archive for the ‘orca whale watching by seattle’ Category

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

Fog, Rain, Transient SUPERPOD, and more rain!

Thursday, August 14th, 2014

The Pacific Northwest lived up to its rainy name today, but if you thought this would deter whale watchers you would be wrong! Guests aboard the M/V Sea Lion were braving the cold air, and intermittent rain clouds to get a closer look at the amazing superpod of transient that consisted of well over 20 whales! The M/V Sea Lion motored east through Obstruction Pass, and even got to split through Frost Island and Spencer’s Spit to arrive in the Rosario Strait. Just North of Belle Rock was the group of marine-mammal eating orcas that were in celebration mode. There were tail slaps and whale hugs galore, but more importantly, there was even a fairly new calf to the group. This pint-size orca was keeping up with it’s elders and doing a great job of entertaining our guests. It was hard not too make the ooooo-ing and aaahhhh-ing when that youngster rocketed to the surface to copy mom’s porpoising behavior. Overall, I’d say the rain and fog enhanced our evening tour and made us feel that much closer to the whales! Great day on the water and looking to another one tomorrow.

Caitlin, Naturalist, M/V Sea Lion

San Juan Safaris

Rainy Day With Whales

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

Today we left Friday harbor and headed North towards East Point.  On the way North we stopped at Flattop Island and found some harbor seals and two bald eagles.  One eagle was an adult another was a juvenile that was feeding on a fish.  We continued towards to whales.  We found the whales a little South of East Point.  The first whale we saw was J2 (Granny) and she gave us a great look!  Granny is estimated to be the oldest orca in the world at 103 years old! We then watched L87 (Onyx) go by.  Onyx was adopted by Granny in 2010 when his mother passed away and is now always seen traveling with her.  We were also passed by the rest of the J2′s (Granny’s family) include little J49 (T’ilem I’nges) who was born in 2012.  We were then passed by J16 (Slick) and her son J26 (Mike), and then shortly after the rest of the J16′s, J36 (Alki) and J42 (Echo).  Both passed by us while porpoising which was pretty awesome to see.  Thankfully the whales don’t care about rain so we managed to get some great looks at them!

Naturalist Rachel

M/V Sea Lion, San Juan Safaris

Whales out East

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

Today we left Friday harbor and headed South through San Juan Channel and then East towards Anacortes.  When we got into San Juan Channel we came across a minke whale, which made for a nice surprise! We watched the minke whale and then continued heading South.  We went through cattle pass and stopped at the whale rocks to look at some large stellar sea lions.  We then headed East and found the J16′s.  The J16′s consist of J16 (Slick) and her three offspring J26 (Mike), J36 (Alki) and J42 (Echo).  We enjoyed watching the family hunting salmon and got to see some fun behaviors as well.  We watched Mike and Echo rolling on each other for a bit and saw Alki breach twice!  On the way home we stopped by iceberg point and saw three tufted puffins!  Tufted puffins are the largest species of puffin and area a rare surprise to see in this area.  We had a beautiful sunset this evening and had great lighting for photographs.  It was a great evening and we enjoyed every minute of our time on the water.

Naturalist Rachel

M/V Sea Lion, San Juan Safaris

Westside Whales

Sunday, August 10th, 2014

It was an eventful day today with our resident whales along the westside of San Juan Island. We were greeted by both members of K Pod and L Pod for our afternoon trip on the M/V Sea Lion. We first met up with these whales at Battleship Island and then followed them north towards Turn Point Lighthouse on Stuart Island. I always love being able to see them at Turn Point because Mt. Baker, the lighthouse, and the whales, will occasionally line up perfectly for the ultimate whale watching shot. A few of our lucky guests were able to capture that magical shot! Most of the resident whales continued their trajectory north, however a few stragglers stuck around for our evening trip. We were rewarded with Mega, Mystery, and even Solstice. Great day for whale watching and we got to top it off with a full moon in the sky!



Naturalist, M/V Sea Lion, San Juan Safaris

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.