Posts Tagged ‘cormorants’

All Present and Accounted For!

Friday, October 5th, 2012

The Transient Killer Whales were all business today. A group of approximately 6 individuals were taking their sweet time below the surface, typical foraging behavior. They kept us guessing as to where they were going to pop up for a few breaths before their next long dive. Meanwhile we drifted in the calm, sunlit waters in sight of downtown Victoria (48°21.21N, 123°18.01W). On our way back in, we came across porpoises, murres, cormorants, loons, seals, sea lions, and a Minke Whale. All present and accounted for! We’re savoring every last bit of this lingering summer with the knowledge that the fall rains, high winds, and rough seas could be right around the corner.

Naturalist Andrew
San Juan Safaris Whale Watching

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

A Different Kind of Day

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

Today’s tour was a bit different than usual, yet so refreshing! With no whale reports since the night before, we took our tour to the inner islands.

Sure the San Juan Islands are home to one of the most charismatic animals in the world, the Killer Whale, but that is not the only thing that makes them beautiful. Often times the inner beauties of these islands are overlooked, but today we allowed our guests to discover these beauties. We toured along Flattop Island, the Cactus Islands, through Johns and Stewart Island, then into Canada to see Moresby and Mandarte Island, and back into the U.S. to finish with Spieden Island.

The abundance of wildlife inhabiting these islands and the channels between is nothing short of remarkable, including those we saw today such as dozens of Harbor Porpoise, dozens upon dozens of Harbor Seals, Bald Eagles, Cormorants, Sika Deer, Fallow Deer, Mouflon Sheep, Great Blue Heron, Gulls of all shapes and sizes, and Steller Sea Lions.

Animals aside, these islands standalone in their natural beauty. Glaciation has carved this area into one of the most majestic places on earth; the geology, the vegetation, simply awe-inspiring.

And if you haven’t seen enough then consider this, there are hundreds of islands that make up the San Juans and every island has a story of its own. From the coastal Sammish, to the Spaniards, to a one room school house, no plumbing, no electric, to the richest of summer homes, to marine state parks, to national wildlife refuges, to a war almost started over a Pig, to even owning an island yourself. These islands are something worth seeing and we can give you this experience.

Naturalist Tara, San Juan Safaris

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!

Wildlife Galore

Wednesday, July 18th, 2012

We had a very exciting and full-of-wildlife day! We departed Friday Harbor heading north into Canadian waters. Before seeing the main event (killer whales) we spotted about five or six harbor porpoise just north of San Juan Channel. Not long after we saw one dorsal fin, then another, then three more! There were about eight to ten southern resident killer whales, traveling close to each other. They were moving north along Pender Island (48º 36.54’N 123º 04.94’W). We watched as three whales spy-hopped, one after another, followed by a full, body out of the water, breach! The whales then moved close to shore, slowly diving and surfacing. In this group naturalist Jenny and I were able to identify members from both J and L pods, including L-72 Racer, J-27 Blackberry, J-28 Polaris, L-25 Ocean Sun.

After watching the whales, we motored around Stuart Island and spotted a few nesting cormorants on the rocky cliff near Turn Point. Also included in our trip home was a great look of Spieden Island where the non-native, but oh so cool muflon sheep and fallow deer were grazing, bald eagles were flying over the island and perched in a few trees, and eight harbor seals were hauled out of the water near the shore, including three mother pup pairs! Finally, just before getting back into Friday Harbor, a guest spotted another bald eagle. Definitely not our average Wednesday out on the water!

Kristen, Naturalist, San Juan Safaris

2 Transients On the Hunt!

Monday, June 11th, 2012

It was another beautiful day on the water. The sun was out in full shine, the water pure glass. Out in Haro Strait at the very northeastern tip of D’Arcy Island we found two Transient Orcas (48°35.77N, 123°15.61W). We identified them as male T20 and female T21. Fortunately we were able to watch them hunt for a while.

We then continued our way around Mandarte Island, through the Cactus Islands, and back home. We saw all kinds of wildlife including Cormorants, gulls, Pigeon Guillemots, Harbor Seals, Harbor Porpoise, Bald Eagles, Fallow Deer, and Mouflon Sheep. Couldn’t ask for much more on a day like this!

Naturalist Tara, San Juan Safaris

Beautiful Weather, Amazing Whales

Friday, June 8th, 2012

It was a terrific day around the San Juan Islands in terms of weather and wildlife. As we left Friday Harbor heading south, the sun was shining and the water flat. Perfect for spotting the many harbor seals hauled out, covering every small rocky island exposed during high tide. We also passed Goose Island where cormorants were taking advantage of the sun as well, drying off their feathers.

Then we rounded cattle point and saw our first dorsal fin break the water just south of False Bay (48° 27.37′N 123° 02.83′ W). J pod was back! The whales were spread out along the west coast of San Juan Island, and were very active. We watched in awe as they lob tailed, spy hopped, rolled around, and breached! It was really incredible.

We then continued to circumnavigate around San Juan Island, enjoying the views and taking advantage of the weather. We slowed around Spieden Island, seeing more harbor seals, some oyster catchers, two bald eagles perched high in the tree tops, and a few sika deer in the tree cover. We couldn’t have asked for a better day!

~Kristen, Naturalist, San Juan Safaris

A Marine Mammal Thanksgiving!

Sunday, June 3rd, 2012

Unfortunately there were no reports or sightings of Orcas whales in the region today, but we did get to see an amazing amount of other marine and terrestrial wildlife! We traveled approximately 50 miles round trip visiting Spieden Island, Mandarte, Turn Point (Stewart Island), and Patos Island. On Spieden we found some Mouflon Sheep and a couple Bald Eagles along with numerous Harbor Seals hauled out on small, rocky islets. At Mandarte, we engaged in hundreds of Cormorants building up their nests right on the cliffs, just overlooking the water, creating the ultimate penthouses.

We then headed towards East Point (Saturna Island) where we would soon find ourselves in the midst of a marine mammal gathering. This area, between East Point and Patos Island, is commonly known for its productivity and foraging value due to all the rip tides, upwellings, and different currents coming together. So when we reached the scene, we were immediately indulged in a marine mammal thanksgiving. Everywhere we looked, we saw different animals getting together for their share of fresh fish including 3 Steller Sea Lions, multiple Harbor Seals, Harbor Porpoises, and large swarms of Sea Birds hovering over each group for any left overs. Man was it a sight to see! Who knew marine animals were so similar to humans? Just lure us in with a little bit of food and sure, we’ll come together!

But speaking of food, its dinner time!

Signing off,

Naturalist Tara, San Juan Safaris

Harbor Day

Thursday, May 10th, 2012

The name of the game today was Harbor. Harbor Seals and Harbor Porpoises were everywhere in the Salish Sea today. We started by heading north out of Friday Harbor. Our first stop was Spieden Island, where we saw not only mouflon sheep and sika deer, but at least six bald eagles flying over the tree tops. Two of them left the island and flew straight over our boat! We also spotted harbor seals everywhere! They were hauled out on just about every rocky island. We then headed towards Mandarte island where double crested cormorants and gulls were nesting and flying above. Then, off Turn Point we spotted harbor porpoises all around the boat! Coming up multiple times so that we were able to get a good look. Plus, there were more bald eagles! Two were perched at the top of a tree, and three more were circling above Stuart Island. Finally, on the way back there were two Steller sea lions off the south tip of Spieden Island.

~Kristen, Naturalist, San Juan Safaris

Going the Distance

Saturday, May 5th, 2012

The sun was shining high in the sky as we left Friday Harbor this afternoon. We headed south, far south, enjoying the natural beauty of the islands along the way. At 48o 10.80’N 122 o 59.70’W, off shore between Dungeness Spit and Port Angeles, we spotted our first blow. It was the Southern Resident killer whales. The Orcas were spread out all around us. We watched as they milled around in groups of two to four individuals, diving and blowing, their dorsal fins cutting through the water. What a sight! After spending some time with the whales it was time to make the long journey back. But time did not stop us from viewing two bald eagles on Long Island, a group of Steller sea lions on whale rocks, and gulls and cormorants on Goose Island. We couldn’t have asked for a better day!

Kristen, Naturalist, San Juan Safaris