Posts Tagged ‘Bald Eagle’

Transient Fun!

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

Today Captain Pete, Tyler and I headed out for a blustery day on Haro Strait. We headed North around San Juan Island and met up with a beautiful group of transient killer whales in the middle of the strait right on the US/Canadian border. Transients eat marine mammals (basically anything that we think is cute and cuddly) with harbor seals making up about 60% of their diet. Today we were fortunate enough to see the T37s and the T137As. We can identify individuals whales by looking at the markings and scars around their dorsal fins. Transients, because they eat animals that fight back, tend to be more scarred than the resident killer whales, who just eat salmon. We finished the trip with a good look at a bald eagle and some harbor seals around Spieden Island. It was another amazing day on the Salish Sea!

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

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

 

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

 

Minke Whale Goes Off the Beaten Path

Wednesday, July 31st, 2013

The fog bank to the west and north of San Juan Island has been challenging the whale watching fleet recently. Shortly after departing the Friday Harbor dock, Captain Craig learned of a minke whale sighting north of Waldron Island. When we caught up with the cetacean it was executing long dives, 5-6 minutes in duration, followed by 3-5 short dives. We finished the trip off by cruising by a national wildlife refuge and the Cactus Islands, where we observed bald eagles and harbor seals at close range.

Andrew
Naturalist, M/V “Sea Lion”
San Juan Safaris

“Spirited” Whales and Wildlife of All Sorts!

Monday, July 15th, 2013

Today was a beautiful day to be on the water with plenty of action, and Caitlin, Captain Mike and I were out to experience it all! We left the dock and headed out to the south end of San Juan Island. As we went through Cattle Pass, there was a plethora of wildlife to be scene. A mated pair of Bald Eagles flew above the water in front of us and landed on Goose Island. Also on Goose Island were lots of hatchings! Fluff balls of down feathers and young, disoriented, hungry baby Galls covered the island! Now, normally I’m not particularity fond of Galls… but seeing all of the adorable hatchings bring a new side of “cuteness” to these terribly misunderstood creatures!

It’s also “pupping” season, and we saw many Harbor Seal pups with their mothers swimming and up on the rocks! Harbor Seal pups can swim within minuets of birth, but have been known to ride on Mom’s back holding on with their tiny flippers! This may seem well and good, but in 3-4 weeks that mother is going to abruptly wean and leave her pup, so he/she had better be paying attention and not catching too many free piggy-backs off Mom!

After we spent time with the Eagles and Seals, Mike slowed the boat down once more for something else; Harbor Porpoise surrounded our boat, and one even breached! There is nothing like seeing a 150lb Porpoise jump out of the water! That was a first for me! It’s actually unusual for Harbor Porpoise to spend that much time near a motor vessel, usually their very shy and disappear when large boasts are near; we were all very happy!

When we finally caught up with the L-22′s (Spirit, Skanna, and Solstice), and it was as if they were welcoming us. Right off, Solstice lept into the air in a full breach! From then on, lots of cartwheeling, breaching, spyhoping, rolling and tail slapping that occurred from all three of the L-Pod members! They just love the attention! Watching these three whales never gets old. They’ve been the only three killer whales in the Puget Sound for a while now, but they certainly know how to put on a show! I’ll visit these whales any day! They’ve really becoming quite partial to me.

Heather, Naturalist, M/V/ Sea Lion
San Juan Safaris

Playful J-pod

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013

M/V Kittiwake, guest, Captain Jim, and myself departed Friday Harbor and headed north. Our guests got a great view of the Cactus Islands, Johns Island, and Stuart Island. We caught up with part of J-pod just off of turn point, which marks the most north western point in the U.S. Our guests got great views of the cookie clan, which includes J22-Oreo, J32-Rhapsody, J-34 Doublestuff, J-38 Cookie. This family group was also traveling with another two family groups and our guests were seeing about 10 to 15 whales! Two younger whales, J-46 star and J-47 looker, were showing off for our guests. They were spy hopping, tail lobbing, and breaching. A lot of my guests always ask, “Why do they do that?” I always saying they are trying to look at our guests and showing off for them. On the way home we got to look at two different pairs of nesting Blad Eagles, one on Stuart Island and the other on Spieden Island. Our guests walked off our boat with great pictures of playful J-pod and smiles on their faces!

Aimee-Naturalist, M/V Kittiwake
San Juan Safaris

Summer is Here in the San Juans!

Sunday, June 30th, 2013

It was a beautiful day today as Captain Chris, Captain Brian, the guests, and I headed out on of Friday Harbor on the Kittiwake. With not a breath of wind, and a robins egg blue sky, summer is finally here! We found a Minke Hein Bank and had some great views as it surfaced. After spending time with the Minke, we headed closer to shore to find some Bald Eagles and Harbor Seals, and we were not disappointed! We had a great look at the eagle nest on Long Island, near the south end of Lopez Island, and the nesting pair of Bald Eagles that the nest belongs to! Bald Eagles mate for life and will return the the same next every year! Eagles will also build a back up nest in case anything should happen to their main nest. The largest nest on record was 9ft wide, 20ft deep, and weighed in at over 1 ton! That’s a lot of sticks! As always, it was another beautiful day on the water, and now that summer is here, get your marshmallow sticks ready, because it is sure to be a great one!

Emily, Naturalist, San Juan Safaris, MV Kittiwake

Minke + Humpback + Sunset = A Wonderful Evening

Thursday, June 27th, 2013

As Captain Craig, the guests, and I left Friday Harbor and headed south through San Juan Channel it was grey and the water was swirling with whirlpools from the tidal currents. However, as soon as we rounded Cattle Point on San Juan Island the clouds parted and the water was like glass! With the sun on our backs, we encountered a Minke near Salmon Bank. We had marvelous views of the solo Minke all the way up to Eagle Point.

Captain Craig heard that there might be a Humpback on the west side of San Juan Island, so we started to motor up the west side. We first encountered the Humpback at Kellet Bluff on Henry Island. The Humpback was being very docile tonight as it chugged north.

As we parted ways with the Humpback, the sunset really got going! With tons of yellows and golds it was one of the best sunsets I have seen on the water! We got to see two members the Rorqual Family (Humpback and Minke whales), Harbor Seals, Bald Eagles, and a spectacular sunset. I call that a success!

Emily, Naturalist, San Juan Safaris, MV Sea Lion

Transients on the South End

Sunday, June 16th, 2013

We headed South today from our Friday Harbor location and into the San Juan Channel where we promptly had to do a “man overboard” drill to retrieve one of our customers hats! The hat flew off and into the water, at which point Captain Mike swiftly turned the boat around and Caitlin and I retrieved the water-logged hat! Sometimes, we start out with a little excitement right in the very beginning! We’ll always go out of our way to make sure we still have smiling faces aboard!

After the excitement with the hat, we headed out through Cattle Pass and into the Haro Strait in hopes of finding our Transient friends. Transient killer whales are our mammal hunting killer whales as opposed to our Resident Orcas which only eat Salmon.

We found our Transient killer whales traveling together in a group of 6 swimming at about 10 knots! The whales we encountered were the same T-65 group that we have been seeing over the past week. These guy’s were heading south and doing so pretty fast; they seemed to have an agenda of their own! We got some great views of their grey saddle patch and sharp, pointed dorsal fins while they were porpoising out of the water.

After watching the whales for quite some time, we headed back for Friday Harbor. On our way back we were able to see a Bald Eagle pair and their nest as well ass some Harbor Seals. The harbor seals were hauled out on the rocks, which is probably the safest place for them while our Transients are in the water! Another great day of whale watching!

Heather, Naturalist, Seal Lion
San Juan Safaris

Transient,Transient, and more Transient Killer Whales- April 13, 2013

Saturday, April 13th, 2013

Our 2013 Whale Watch season is off the a great start. We’ve hosted guests on four Whale Watch tours in the past week and encountered Transient mammal-hunting Orcas on each tour. Today was no exception!

We departed Friday Harbor without any reports of killer whales in the area and were having a great wildlife tour encountering Stellar’s sea lions, bald eagles, and harbor seals galore. We were about to leave Spieden Channel to head North into Haro Strait when (to our surprise!!), I looked towards Roche Harbor on the port side on the vessel and holy cow! WHALES! The T65s and T49B surprised us all! We observed this small pod of six traveling east down Spieden Channel, on the northern end of San Juan Island. We witnessed tons of fast moving feeding behavior and I even thought I saw a glimpse of a porpoise being pushed around by T49B.

This time of year, we most often see Transient (also now known as Bigg’s) mammal-hunting Orcas, which travel is small family pods and can sometimes be difficult to spot. When we do though, it’s very exciting!

-Naturalist Kevin