Posts Tagged ‘Bald Eagle’

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

Seals, a Whale, Sea Lions, and an Elephant!?

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

Our day began with Harbor Seals!  As usual they were taking advantage of the beautiful weather and having a snooze while soaking up the sunshine. 

We then motored south through the San Juan Channel where we saw a number of marine mammal and seabird species including Harbor Porpoise, Steller Sea Lions, Common Murres, Rhinoceros Auklets, Cormorants, Harbor Seals, and a plethora of Gulls.  These animals were most likely foraging in this highly productive area. 

As we cruised south to look for Minke Whales, Captain Mike found a Northern Elephant Seal!  SO COOL!  However, when the seal dove we decided to continue our search for a Minke Whale since the average dive of a Northern Elephant Seal lasts approximately 30 minutes. 

It wasn’t too long before we found a Minke Whale, and the whale even had short dive times, only 4 minutes.  After capturing several glimpses of the Minke Whale it was time to begin our jaunt back to Friday Harbor.  But the tour wasn’t over yet, on the way back we stopped to view a mature Bald Eagle and at least 20 Steller Sea Lions hauled out on the rocky shores of Whale Rocks!  Wooowhooo! 

Good Times in the Salish Sea!

Naturalist Amy, San Juan Safaris Whale Watching and Wildlife Tours

Round 2: Another group of Transient Killer Whales

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

We had wonderful views of 4 Transient Killer Whales!  We first saw the Orca Whales near Green Point as they were traveling north.  The pod included one physically mature male, he was massive.  When we arrived on scene, the whales were taking turns slapping their tail flukes on the surface before they continued traveling north.  They then circumnavigated Flattop Island, performed several lobtails and once again continued north. 

After viewing the Transient Orca Whales we found Harbor Seals, one of the Transient Killer Whales primary prey species, soaking up the sunshine safely on the shores of Cactus Islands.  A mature bald eagle was perched on a tree overlooking the scene.  As we cruised along Spieden Island we observed a number of Mouflon Sheep, Sika Deer, and Fallow Deer.  Then as we again neared Green Point we found one lone Steller Sea Lion cruising along the shore.  He was lucky those Transient Killer Whales headed north.  :D

Naturalist Amy, San Juan Safaris Whale Watching and Wildlife Tours


Bald Eagle Photo Wins Photo Contest for Wildlife

Saturday, September 1st, 2012
Photo Contest Winner for Bald Eagle by Paige Taken August 10, 2012

Photo Contest Winner for Bald Eagle by Paige Taken August 10, 2012

L-pod Party

Sunday, August 26th, 2012

Today we were watching a variety of wildlife on the south side of San Juan Island.  We observed between 10-15 members of L pod that were spread out south of False Bay and heading to the southeast (48°25.25N, 123°05.87W).  Five to six orcas were surfacing in a tight-knit group.  Three other individuals were at least 500 yards away to the south and east, but traveling in the same direction.  One orca breached twice; what an incredible splash!  We believe we spotted the L85 “Mystery” in the group, and two-year-old L116 with mother L82 “Kasatka”.  After spending some time observing these large mammals we passed by Whale Rock to see 17 Steller’s sea lions relaxing under partly sunny skies.  Two bald eagles were looking out over the water for their next meal; one was near its nest on Long Island, the other on Turn Island.  We caught glimpses of harbor porpoise and harbor seals too!  Great day to be on the water.

SJS Naturalist Jenny

Dear Readers, Greet the Brand New Day… with San Juan Safaris!

Friday, August 24th, 2012

The sun is out, the sky is blue, it’s beautiful, with wildlife too! Dear readers, won’t you come out and play?

Today couldn’t have been more enjoyable!  The sunshine, the summertime, *perfect temperatures, and water like glass! We saw tons of wildlife including at least 3 dozen Harbor Seals, 2 Great Blue Herons, a Bald Eagle, Harbor Porpoise, Cormorants, Rhinoceros Auklets, Common Murres, and 15+ Steller Sea Lions. We also had a great round of wildlife bingo with each and every passenger competing for the gold!

With smooth seas, no breeze, the sun on our face, there’s no better place, to be, than the Salish Sea! :)

Naturalist Tara, San Juan Safaris!

International Travelers

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

Today we headed north on a wildlife adventure!  Incredible scenery through the northern San Juan Islands; we passed by Spieden Island first.  Adult male mouflon sheep were grazing near shore; their large and round horns are quite a sight.  Several females were also resting in the grass close by.  We also spotted a bald eagle at the top of a tree looking out for its next meal.  A harbor seal was resting with her pup on a mattress of rockweed, a type of seaweed, up against the shoreline.  These pups nurse for about six weeks and then it is time to learn to hunt for fish.  As we turned toward Stuart Island, we kept a lookout for any splashing at the surface.  Harbor porpoise would quickly pop up, and down they would dive.  Once we crossed Boundary Pass, we hugged the shoreline of Saturna Island.  We were in Canada!  We moved through these waters for a period of time, on the lookout for large marine mammals.  We turned back toward Waldron Island and sure enough, the elusive minke whale (48°41.44N, 123°05.42W).  Surrounded by seabirds, including rhinoceros auklets, common murres, and glaucous-winged gulls, a bait ball was just under the surface.  Several surfaces by the minke allowed us to see that curved dorsal fin and pointed rostrum, or snout.  After watching the minke for several minutes, we returned to Friday Harbor under sunny skies.  So much to see while on the water!

SJS Naturalist Jenny

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