Posts Tagged ‘Bald Eagle’

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

Sunday Whale Watching Off San Juan Island

Monday, October 8th, 2012

Seals basking on rock outcrops. A Minke whale in Griffin Bay. A Stellar sea lion wrestling with an OCTOPUS? Yes at Cattle Pass.  Harbor porpoise on the port side! The sea lion won. Then off to Hein Bank to view a Humpback whale. One single humpback lazily coming up for air, then a 5 minute dive – going to Victoria.

What a day.

Tara’s Final Report

Saturday, September 29th, 2012

Well whale watchers, it’s been a great season! Today was my final tour and a memorable one. We started off with a Minke Whale sighting in the Strait of Juan de Fuca near Salmon Bank. This whale couldn’t seem to get enough of the crowd, surfacing more times than I’ve ever seen a Minke Whale do so. After traveling with him for a while, we decided to head further west in search of more critters. We soon found 15+ Dall’s Porpoise just a couple miles offshore of Eagle Point. This was only the second time I’ve seen these animals in all the 5 months I’ve spent on the water here, so I was running around the boat squealing and pointing like a little kid at Disneyland. They eventually began to play with us, riding with the water of our bow and also in the wake of our stern. Simply awesome! We then headed for home, stopping by the eagles nest on Long Island where a mature Bald Eagle sat perched near the top of a tree just afore the nest and swung by Whale Rocks to see the massive mumbling and grumbling Steller Sea Lions.

It’s been a whale of a season to say the least, and I will deeply miss the water, the animals, the adventure, and most importantly the crew! But until next time my friends… 

Signing off,

Naturalist Tara, San Juan Safaris

Transients and calves play in Canadian waters

Friday, September 28th, 2012

We caught up with a group of Transients today near South Pender Island, British Columbia  (48°44.01N 123°18.00W). Initially we paralleled the path of a group of 4 whales, which included 2 large bulls.  At one point we were traveling 10 knots to keep up with them!  The group slowed and synchronized their dives as they approached a second group of transients milling near a shoal.  The whales suddenly became very active on the surface with several partial breaches, tail-lobbing, spyhopping, and one breathtaking full body breach.  We heard a vocalization above the surface while watching two rambunctious youngsters playing near their mothers.  One of the calves appeared to be the length of a newly born calf, about 7’ long.   When we left the group, they were continuing to move in a southwesterly direction toward Gooch Island.  We capped the tour with a cruise by Spieden Island where we witnessed a stately bald eagle, and abundant Mouflon Sheep, Fallow Deer (including a few completely white individuals with huge racks!), and a few Sika deer as well.   As we rounded Green Point, we came across 3 Steller’s Sea Lions logging about amongst a raft of Bonaparte’s and California Gulls.   

Naturalist Andrew, San Juan Safaris

Monday, September 24th, 2012

Cruising south through San Juan Channel we encountered a number of marine mammals and seabird species.  Harbor Seals, Harbor Porpoise, and Steller Sea Lions were all taking advantage of the abundance of prey along with the Glaucous-winged Gulls, Rhinoceros Auklets, and Cormorants. 

Upon entering Cattle Pass the beautiful island setting was blanketed by a layer of fog providing a chilly and eerily exciting ambiance to our tour.  Even before we could see the Steller Sea Lions we could hear their grumbles echoing through the cloudy mist.  Then, through the haze we finally saw these massive animals!  Over 15 Steller Sea Lions were spread out over the rocky shores of Whale Rocks.  Another 7 Steller Sea Lions had formed a raft and were alternating lifting their flippers out of the water as if they were performing a synchronized swimming routine. 

Next, roughly ¼ mile offshore of San Juan Island between Pile Point and Hannah Heights we found a Minke Whale (48°28.45N, 123°06.48W)!  The Minke Whale seemed extra curious today coming in for a closer look as it circled the stern of the vessel.  Such a rare treat for this normally shy and elusive animal. 

Our tour ended with a visit to Spieden Island where we viewed dozens of the Mouflon Sheep, Sika Deer, and Fallow Deer.  Followed by a stop at O’Neal Island in Rocky Bay where we saw a mature Bald Eagle!

Naturalist Amy, San Juan Safaris Whale Watching and Wildlife Tours

Wildlife o’ Plenty

Saturday, September 15th, 2012

Once again, it was beautiful day in the San Juan Islands with bluebird skies and flat calm waters.  And, the Salish Sea was teeming with wildlife and seabirds. 

In the San Juan Channel and Cattle Pass we saw Harbor Seals, Harbor Porpoise, Steller Sea Lions, and a number of different seabird species.  Here the tide is funneled through Lopez Island and San Juan Island creating upwelling.  Eager for a meal, marine mammals and seabirds congregate in this area, taking full advantage of the abundance of prey.  Marine mammals are intelligent animals and focus their efforts in areas where food tends to be predictable and abundant.  Sure seemed like they were having a feast.

Further south a Minke Whale was also busy foraging in the highly productive waters over Salmon Bank, evident by the 100’s of seabirds attacking a number of different bait balls of fish!  The Minke Whale was unusually cooperative, surfacing every few minutes and providing excellent views and photographic opportunities.  This Minke Whale was definitely not a “sneaky Minke” today! 

On our return to Friday Harbor we saw another 15 Harbor Seals, packed in like sardines on Mummy Rocks where a mature Bald Eagle perched above overlooking the scene as if playing “King of the Mountain.”  Then we swung by Whale Rocks where over 20 Steller Sea Lions were either swimming, resting, or visibly arguing over prime haul-out territory. 

Naturalist Amy, San Juan Safaris Whale Watching and Wildlife Tours

Fun in the Sun; the Wildlife Rendition!

Friday, September 14th, 2012

What a fabulous day on the water! We started the trip off with an abundance of wildlife as we made our way through San Juan Channel. We saw dozens upon dozens of Harbor Seals hauled out, sun bathing on any rocky islet available and bobbing through the riptides in search of food. We also saw three Steller Sea Lions swimming amongst the riptides, what seemed to be another marine mammal thanksgiving!

Once we reached Haro Strait we encountered our first Minke Whale just south of Salmon Bank about a mile offshore of San Juan Island (48°25.00N 122°56.00W). We watched it surface a few times and then all of a sudden another Minke popped up right across our bow. Soon after, a third surfaced on our starboard side. Once we were surrounded, we cut off our engine and simply watched. Surprisingly the Minkes weren’t being very mysterious, instead they were being extremely active! They came up multiple times by our boat, allowing us to hear their blows and see the full extent of their 30-35 ft long bodies and they were lunging like crazy showing us their full rostrum and stealing away the food from any birds in sight.

The Minkes were surprising, the birds went flying, and the people were smiling!

On our way back in we visited the Bald Eagles nest and the Steller Sea Lions hauled out on Whale Rocks. They too were enjoying the sun, about 15+ of them out basking away, and about 5 or so playing around in the water.

Another great day full of wildlife and whales!

Naturalist Tara, San Juan Safaris