Archive for the ‘san juan island’ Category

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

Minkes today!

Although our Southern Resident Killer Whales were nowhere to be found today, we did have luck finding Minke Whales. Not just one, but two (maybe even 3!) Minkes were in the Salmon Banks area, on the south side of San Juan Island (48°25.33’N, 122°59.94’W). Just rounding the corner out of Friday Harbor, a Bald Eagle majestically perched at the top of a fir on Turn Island. On the way out of San Juan Channel, eight Stellar Sea Lions sunned themselves on Whale Rocks, while young Harbor Seal pups seemed to be everyone in the water.  On Goose Island, Glaucous Winged Gull chicks still covered the east side of the rocks, while Cormorants sunned themselves near the water’s edge. Along with the wild life viewing, today’s sunny weather, and an exciting current racing with the flood tide through Cattle Pass, it was another excellent day on the water!

Shelly, Naturalist


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012

Fantastic wildlife viewing today! Caught up with Southern Resident Killer Whales off East Point, Saturna Island, BC (48°27.25N, 123°02.35W). Viewed a large group of tightly packed members of J Pod, with J-37 (Hy’Shqa) and new baby tucked in between, moving westerly off Saturna Island at a slow pace. Lots of tail slapping, lob tailing, breaching, spy-hopping. Saw Bald Eagles in the trees and sitting on the rocks off Cactus Island. Guests witnessed a breathtaking dive bomb to the water by an eagle, who successfully emerged with a fish, then landed on a rock and started eating. Excellent wildlife viewing, warm weather, and mellow seas made for another amazing day on the Salish Sea.

Shelly, Tara, and Jenny, Naturalist for San Juan Safaris

Sunny skies, calm seas

Saturday, April 14th, 2012

Excited by an early morning report that a large number of Orcas had been sighted off Cattle Point on San Juan Island, we could not wait to get out on the water at noon. Heading north in San Juan Channel, our first stop was at Yellow Island to check out a healthy number of Harbor Seals hauled out on the rocks.  Next stop, Green Point at Speiden Island, where more than a few mammoth Stellar Sea Lions dove and rolled on all sides of the boat. Several Harbor Porpoises surfaced long enough for a quick look as we passed Speiden, en route to Stuart Island. Bald Eagles were sighted, either soaring overhead, or posed in treetops. Easy cruising under clear skies and calm seas, but no whales.

After cruising around Stuart Island, we headed over to Canadian waters to check out the Cormorant rookery on Mandarte Island. Saw both Brandt’s and Pelagic Cormorants sitting on nests and a lone sentry Canada Goose on top of the rock. Hearing reports of Dalls Porpoises, we headed back into Haro Strait to catch a quick glimpse of one between Gooch Island and Turn Point, Stuart Island.  Cruising along the west side of Spieden Island gave us a good look at the monumental number of newborn baby Mouflon Sheep scattered all over the steep, grassy sides.  Another last look at the Stellar Sea Lions surfing in the currents off Green Point, then we turned for home. Although the whales eluded us today, it was a priceless day in the San Juan Archipelago — warm, sunny, spring-weather, a calm sea, and a plethora of Bald Eagles, Pinnipeds, Porpoises, and Pelagic birds.

Naturalists Shelly and Kathy

Resident Orcas today!

Sunday, April 8th, 2012

     Yesterday Transients Orcas, today Residents Orcas! Traveling all the way to Mouat Point off North Pender Island, Canada, we caught up with members of J and K pod. Although the Orcas kept us on the move, we paused long enough to see foraging, plenty of tail-slapping, a slow-motion spy-hop by Sekiu (K-22), and an excellent full-body breach! It was also a treat to clearly hear vocalizations on our hydrophone.

     A stop at Green Point on Speiden Island on the way home gave us a good look at a noisy group of Stellar Sea Lions all perched upright at the water’s edge. We began and ended the trip with sightings of adult Bald Eagles just inside the marina.

     Another spectacular day on the water. Despite starting off with a thrilling ocean-spray ride north (all slickers were in use), the skies cleared, the whales graced us with their presence, and we celebrated another spectacular day on the water on glassy seas and under sunny skies.


26 Degrees On San Juan Island This AM December 9, 2011

Friday, December 9th, 2011

It has gradually been getting colder. But this morning, 26 degrees at 8:00 AM? Brrrrrrrrrrr.

The fences, bushes and grass all had frost glittering on them as I drove into town.

Attached is a photo of San Juan Valley – just had to stop and snap the fog sitting on the ground with the sun shining on a barn.

Orca Whales, A Loon, A Brown Peligan, Dall’s Porpoise & Stellar Sealion on our Last Daily Tour

Sunday, October 2nd, 2011

Yes, we saw orca whales today on the 2nd of October – late in the whale watching season.  We took off from Friday Harbor, San Juan Island heading north toward Spieden Island.  As we neared Speiden, one of the guests spotted a large brown head which turned out to be a great big stellar sea lion fishing by himself.  We stayed on the south side of Speiden and Shelly spotted a mature bald eagle up in a tree. Down below the Mouflon Sheep and Sitka Deer were roaming about.

We pushed on to Haro Strait and started south down Henry Island to the west side of San Juan Island. We were a bit south of Kellet’s Buff and north of Lime Kiln Point when orca whales came into view. It was part of L pod that we were viewing.  We sat for about 40 minutes watching the orca pursuing fish. Surfacing for air, switching directions back and forth the whales this up the entire time we sat there. Capt. Mike put down the hydrophone and there was some whale calls that could be heard. Light calling – not a lot.

As we headed further south on the west side, some Dall’s porpoise started riding our bow. Brief, but what a treat.  As the water was gliding I by, I screamed out “loon!” and sure enough it was.  Then at the southern tip of the island I spotted a BROWN Pelican in a raft of sea birds. Brown pelican may be common where you are from, but they are a bit of a rarity here in the islands.  Near Lopez Island, we stopped at a large rock outcropping to view at least 30 stellar sea lion, what seemed like hundreds of cormorants and gulls.  One could definitely smell these animals prior to actually seeing them.

What made this trip so enjoyable for me was that every guest on the boat seemed interested in anything Shelly or I could tell them about the area, birds, trees and wildlife.
This is the last daily tour of the season for us and what a trip it was.


Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

What a beautiful day!  Our trip started out sunny and even a little bit warm.  We headed out of the harbor and up past Waldron toward East Point.  A passenger spotted a pair of bald eagles as soon as we were out of the slip and harbor seals were hauled out in full force along out trek up north.  Once we got to East Point we would see and hear a huge group of Stellar Sea Lions.  As we drew in closer we were treated to both Stellars and Harbor seals sharing the rock; although divided on their separate sides.

Finally we turned back into the wind and began a very blustery ride back toward the harbor.  Just as we were admiring the wildlife of  Speiden Island we heard talk of orca whales just outside of Friday Harbor.  We said adios to the deer and headed off in the direction of the rumored whales.  Just north of the harbor entrance we saw blows in the distance.  We could count three separate dorsal fins at the surface at the same time.

We cruised slowly alongside and slightly behind the pod of transients for about fifteen minutes.   They stayed fairly close to shore and kept a distance of several hundred yards,  but even from a distance we could see that there was a calf present.  The passengers were ecstatic.  So was I.  Finally, pressed for time, we were forced to make the turn back toward the harbor.  It was the perfect end to a gorgeous day.

Inside the nostrils of a Humpback Whale

Wednesday, March 30th, 2011

Nostrils of a Humpback whale by R. Daley March 2011 off Kona HI

This photo was just sent in to me by a friend who was vacationing in Kona Hawaii.

WOW. Have you ever looked into the nostrils of a Humpback? I have not.

Big thanks to RD.

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

March 27, 2011

The first charter of the season

Today was the first official charter of the 2011 season!  Captain Mike Kramer along with naturalists Colleen, Laura, and Mike took 22 brave passengers out in the cool temperatures and overcast skies.The group arrived from Seattle in style on the Kenmore Air Whale-Plane around 10am and we got underway shortly after.  As we headed out of Friday Harbor the passengers bundled up in warm jackets and blankets and kept their eyes on the water for wildlife.

We encountered a couple shy Harbor Porpoise just off the west side of Yellow Island in the middle of San Juan channel in the first 20 minutes of the trip.  We also found dozens of Bald Eagles and a few Harbor Seals both hauled out and bobbing in the water.

Speiden Island was teeming with Mouflan Sheep which were a treat for the group.  And Stewart Island revealed one of the most exciting finds of the day, a Peregrine Falcon!

Even though it was a little chilly and wet everyone had a great time searching for all kinds of wildlife.  It was a great start to the season, and we are all excited to start running regular trips in the next two weeks.  We hope to see you out here soon!  And be sure to check back for more sighting updates as we await our first Orcas of the season!
Naturalist Mike Oster

Sleepy Harbor Seal by Herb

Sleepy Harbor Seal by Herb

Photo contest winners for whale and wildlife 2011

Tuesday, December 28th, 2010

Announcing the Photo winners for 2011 in the category of whale photo: Janet Holba of WI. Winner for “wildlife” photo is Patty Quales of NC. These will be highlighted in the new 2011 website due to be published March 1, 2011.