Posts Tagged ‘Dall\’s Porpoise’

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

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

It started off a rainy Monday and turned into a great wildlife watching day.  We headed north out of the Harbor and up toward Speiden Island.  It was raining steadily but there were a dozen Steller Seal Lions hauled out at the point and more in the water.  Some of them were only half way out of the water, reclining against the rock, like a bunch of guys relaxing in a hot tub.  There was a bald eagle sitting on the nearest hill who had a mostly white head, but when he stretched out his wings showed us his mottled, juvenile coloration underneath.

We passed by a few soggy Mouflon Sheep and out into Haro Straight.  The calm water and low light made it perfect for spotting Harbor Porpoise.  We shut down to try and get a  look at the shy cetaceans and realized that they were all around us for at least a half mile in every direction.  After a few minutes we continued on and eventually encountered a handful of Dall’s Porpoise.  They darted in toward the bow and spent the next few minutes bow riding, drafting, and surfing in our wake.

We cruised around Stewart Island and back around to Speiden.  The sea lions were all in the water rafted up like a bunch of rocks floating at the surface.  As we pulled away we saw splashes and watched as two sea lions chased something, occasionally porpoising out of the water.

With our fingers crossed we turned back toward the harbor.  Eyes and binoculars were glued to the water in hopes of a last minute Orca sighting.  Alas, there were none.  However, it was a great day for other wildlife.



Naturalist, San Juan Safaris

A Sunny Start to the Weekend!

Friday, April 29th, 2011

After a few days of overcast skies and strong winds we had a break in the weather!  With calm water and warm sun we headed out for our 1:30pm wildlife watch.  We were lucky enough to encounter some charismatic Bald Eagles right outside the harbor to start things off.  We then cruised up to East Pt. and found four Stellar Sea Lions hauled out on the rocks causing a ruckus.

Entering Haro Strait revealed more calm waters and our first Dall’s Porpoise of the season!  There were a few spread out over a large area, so we proceeded slowly to see where they were  going to pop up.  Out of nowhere a single porpoise cruised up our starboard side and gave everyone on board a good look.  We even noticed that the dorsal fin was curved over to one side.  It was very exciting for everyone!

On the way home we saw lots of Harbor Seals hauled on the rocks, and the same Stellars from before except this time they were in the water patrolling the coast.  It was a beautiful start to the weekend!



Naturalist, San Juan Safaris


Thursday, September 16th, 2010

Another great day on the west side of San Juan Island!  To start the trip off right we almost immediately spotted a bald eagle perched on Turn Island.  This must have been a good omen because today’s trip was spectacular.  Little did we know it at the time, but there were about 20 orcas on the west side.  We traveled towards False Bay, stopping to watch the Steller’s sea lions on Whale Rocks.  They were roaring loud today!  Our crew was so entertained with these charismatic creatures that we could have stayed there all day!

The whales were widely spread out along the west side.  We identified L87, L88, and L2.  We turned off the boat and watched the whales swim by in every direction.  After lowering the hydrophone, we heard a large variety of squeals and squeaks.  It was hard not to be completely entranced by the orcas.  Although it was raining, our enthusiastic guests were practically begging us to stay longer.  With word from the other whale watching boats, there were more orcas headed our direction.  We stayed put and watched as about 15 more orcas appeared across the smooth waters.  Apparently the K pod was near because we identified K21 “Cappuccino”.  On our way back to Friday Harbor, we saw Dall’s porpoise playing in the wake of our boat.  Rain shmain, today was a WOW kind of day.