Posts Tagged ‘Bald Eagle’

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

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