Posts Tagged ‘Dall\’s Porpoise’


Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

We had reports of Transient Killer Whales near Victoria, B.C. today.  When the animals are reported this far away we do have to do a bit of traveling but fortunately the Killer Whales were traveling east and headed our direction. 

As we were motoring through the Strait of Juan de Fuca to reach the whales we saw 5 Dall’s Porpoise.  The Dall’s Porpoise were actively foraging in the highly productive region.  After a few minutes of viewing these animals we continued on our way when we spotted a Minke Whale!  The Minke Whale surfaced twice before diving.  We knew the whale would be down for several minutes so again we continued on our journey but, it was only a matter of minutes when we came across a number of Harbor Porpoise.  The Harbor Porpoise were also taking advantage of the abundance of prey and were actively foraging.  Then, it wasn’t much further before we spotted the Transient Killer Whales! 

There were 8-9 whales headed north between Middle Bank and Discovery Island (48°23.02N, 123°12.54W).  This was a rather large group for the Transient Killer Whales who are known to be very stealthy and elusive.  Initially the whales were traveling in a tight group but as we continued watching them they began to spread out and form two smaller groups.  They were still traveling within close range of each other; one group of whales was only a few body lengths ahead of the other group.  On two different occasions we saw several of the whales circling and diving in a small area while several seagulls were swooping in from above…it turns out the Killer Whales were having a late lunch evident by the remains of what we suspect were Harbor Porpoise, based on our earlier sightings, floating at the surface.  When it was time to head back to Friday Harbor the Transient Killer Whales had once again formed a tighter group and were traveling in close proximity of one another.

Then it was time to return to Friday Harbor but just because we were leaving the whales didn’t mean the tour was over.  On the way back we saw several more Harbor Porpoise and a number of Harbor Seals.  At Whale Rocks over 30 Steller Sea Lions were littering the island, sprawled out and resting or walking about and grumbling at each other.  While another 6 Steller Sea Lions had decided to take a dip in the frigid, 48 F waters. 

Naturalist Amy, San Juan Safaris Whale Watching and Wildlife Tours

Whale Report July 2, 2012

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

Southern Resident Killer Whales today!

Caught up with about 7 slowly foraging members of J-Pod, including Granny (J-2), Blackberry (J-27) along with Onyx (L-87) on the west side of San Juan Island at 48.27.388N 123.03.597W. We stayed with them until peeling away at the light house at Lime Kiln to complete a circumnavigation of San Juan Island.  Caught a quick sighting of 2 Dall’s Porpoises close to Kelp Reef too.

On the way out, San Juan Channel was busy with Harbor Porpoises (at least 10) and a large group of Harbor Seals (about 15) heads up and bobbing in the tide rip before Goose Island. Counted about 12 Canada Geese pecking on the grassy top of the rock offshore from Cape San Juan, while a lone Bald Eagle kept sentry on top of a snaggy fir on shore.

Our return trip took us along  Speiden Island where a large flock of Mouflon Sheep grazed with several rams keeping watch on the perimeter. Also, sighted one albino Fallow Deer tucked in the exposed roots of a tree just above the water and 4 Sika Deer outlined on the ridge line. On our last glance back at Spieden Is., a nice showing of 3 Bald Eagles that overhead from Sentinel Island towards us.

Naturalists Shelly, Tara and Jenny; San Juan Safaris




The Dall’s

Monday, May 28th, 2012

Today we headed out into the Georgia Strait where we had originally heard of a sighting of 3 transient orcas. Unfortunately as we got closer to the area, we were informed that the group had suddenly switched direction and were headed northwest at a high speed. There was no way our boat or any others from Friday Harbor could catch up with them so we aborted.

We then got news of some Dall’s Porpoise in Active Pass and were fortunate enough to catch up with them. It was a group of about 7-10 and man were they fun! Usually Dall’s will get bored easily with boats, but this group swerved in and out through the water, porpoising out of the water, and playing with the bow for a good 15 minutes.  We then made our way back through the Canadian Gulf Islands and home for a total round trip of 70 miles!


Naturalist Tara, San Juan Safaris

Sunny skies, calm seas

Saturday, April 14th, 2012

Excited by an early morning report that a large number of Orcas had been sighted off Cattle Point on San Juan Island, we could not wait to get out on the water at noon. Heading north in San Juan Channel, our first stop was at Yellow Island to check out a healthy number of Harbor Seals hauled out on the rocks.  Next stop, Green Point at Speiden Island, where more than a few mammoth Stellar Sea Lions dove and rolled on all sides of the boat. Several Harbor Porpoises surfaced long enough for a quick look as we passed Speiden, en route to Stuart Island. Bald Eagles were sighted, either soaring overhead, or posed in treetops. Easy cruising under clear skies and calm seas, but no whales.

After cruising around Stuart Island, we headed over to Canadian waters to check out the Cormorant rookery on Mandarte Island. Saw both Brandt’s and Pelagic Cormorants sitting on nests and a lone sentry Canada Goose on top of the rock. Hearing reports of Dalls Porpoises, we headed back into Haro Strait to catch a quick glimpse of one between Gooch Island and Turn Point, Stuart Island.  Cruising along the west side of Spieden Island gave us a good look at the monumental number of newborn baby Mouflon Sheep scattered all over the steep, grassy sides.  Another last look at the Stellar Sea Lions surfing in the currents off Green Point, then we turned for home. Although the whales eluded us today, it was a priceless day in the San Juan Archipelago — warm, sunny, spring-weather, a calm sea, and a plethora of Bald Eagles, Pinnipeds, Porpoises, and Pelagic birds.

Naturalists Shelly and Kathy

Friday September 30

Friday, September 30th, 2011

The last two days could have gone either way.  The morning whale reports had residents near Hein Bank, possibly heading out to the Pacific.  But like yesterday, the animals turned around and made their way back towards San Juan Island.  We found some members of K pod swimming steadily in Haro Strait as the clouds finally cleared.  We hung out with a few different groups of 4-5 whales, but could see animals spread out in every direction!

On the way home we stopped near Whale Rocks and showed our passengers the large Steller Sea Lions that seemed to have doubled in numbers over the last few days!  To top it off we also encountered Dall’s Porpoise and some really playful Harbor Porpoise in San Juan Channel!


Clear and Humid?

Friday, September 23rd, 2011

Today was arguably one of the warmest, nicest days of the season.  We were lucky enough to encounter a single Minke up north in Boundary Pass.  The water was like glass, and it’s not often that we find Minkes up that way.  As we came around Turn Point we also came across a pretty elusive group of Dall’s Porpoise.  They showed enough of themselves for our passengers to get a good look, but weren’t too interested in hanging out otherwise.

On the way home we also found a few Bald Eagles, plenty of Harbor seals (one was eating a big salmon), and numerous four-legged friends grazing on Spieden!



Don’t let the rain fool you…

Thursday, September 15th, 2011

Today started off gray and rainy.  We got everyone suited up in rain jackets and blankets as we started down San Juan Channel.  We definitely took some spray over the side and the rain was getting everyone sitting up on the bow.  But we had a hardy group of people on board that were ready for the adventure.

We stopped just outside of Friday Harbor to check out quite a few Harbor Seals hauled out on the rocks and got an added bonus of a Bald Eagle perched in the middle of everything.  As we continued south we came across Steller Sea Lions lazing in the rain on whale rocks.  Definitely the most I have seen this fall all together in once place.  Very impressive.

As we headed up island towards the area where the resident Orca had been seen one of our passengers spotted a blow a little off shore.  Sure enough he had found some members of L pod.  We were the only boat in the area and our passengers enjoyed viewing the whales all by ourselves for a while.  We had ‘Mega’ and some of his family with us at first.  We then realized there was something else in the water with the Orca.  A group of Dall’s porpoise had come on to the scene and some of the members of L pod seemed to be traveling with them.  Something I have never seen before!

On our way home we had a last encounter with ‘Racer’, one of the L pod females.  She has a very distinctive saddle patch and numerous passengers got great photos.  By the time we made it home the skies had cleared a bit and the sun was shining on us in the harbor.


Naturalist San Juan Safaris

What else could we have seen?

Wednesday, September 7th, 2011

“What else could we have possibly have seen today?” was a great question that I was asked as we headed back into the harbor.  “Not much” was my answer.  We had an amazing encounter with resident whales today that started with them spread out all over the south west side of the island, merging into small groups, and ended with them meeting up, West Side Story style (without the violence), and then all swimming off into the sunset together.  There were somewhere between 20 and 30 whales out there.  We identified K’s (baby in tow) and J’s (Blackberry and L87 were hanging together with a bunch of juveniles and females).

On our way out we saw seals, sea lions (Steller’s), and Phalaropes.  On the way back in we saw Dall’s porpoise, a few Harbor porpoise here and there, and an Osprey!  It was an awesome day.  It was also the longest I have made it in a t-shirt.  Almost a half an hour in!  Amazing.

Laura, Naturalist

Species circus!

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

As we circumnavigated San Juan Island we encountered species at every turn.  The San Juan Chanel was full of harbor porpoises and bald eagles, the Haro Straight teemed with Dall’s porpoise and three minke whales were feeding around Salmon Bank where California sea lions rested on the buoy.  An exciting day!

Kirsten, Naturalist

Big and small black and whites: Orcas and Dall’s porpoises

Sunday, May 22nd, 2011

Heading south from Friday Harbor, we had word that a potential transient pod was seen off Middle Bank and was headed further out towards the Strait of Juan De Fuca.  With the traveling pod in mind, we searched out in that direction.  After a about and hour and a half of travel, fifteen plus miles and some choppy seas, we spotted some whale watching vessels and then, at last, the orcas!  A pod of four to five unidentified transients were on the move, surfacing for several breaths and then diving as a group for two to three minutes at a time.  A small calf was seen with the pod, with 1-2 males and 2-3 females and/or juveniles.

Alas, our time was up and we had to make the inevitable journey back to Friday Harbor.  But the wildlife viewing was not over.  On our way back in we saw several bird balls of gulls and other sea birds, possibly foraging on bait balls.  At Whale Rocks, we saw ten to fifteen stellar sea lions hauled out sunning themselves and resting as well as a few harbor seals swimming in the water.  Just when we were running low on time and about to make our final turn towards the harbor, we had one last surprise: six to ten dall’s porpoises swimming quickly around the boat and diving as fast as we were seeing them!

Serena, Naturalist

San Juan Safaris