Posts Tagged ‘False Bay’

Whale Trifecta!!!!

Friday, July 5th, 2013

With summer in full swing and full boats, Captain Jim and myself departed on M/V Kittiwake. We had reports of the L12 family group on the west side of San Juan Island just near False Bay. We arrived on scene and got an excellent viewing of Spirit and her two sons, Skana and Solstice. Spirit then continued to breach for us at least five times. Most people asked if there is a reason to why these whales breach. My answer is usually no, they are just playing or showing off for us! Everyone on board was very excited and that energy just kept up the whole trip.
After spending quite some time with this group we had a report of a Humpback whale on our way home. We moved south and spotted the humpback right away. It surfaced three times and showed us its tail flukes. So with two out of the three whales to be seen we continued to try and view the Humpback, but then we saw a Minke whale! We got to see all three whales that are reside in this area. Humpbacks and Minke whales both feed in similar styles and Haro Strait provides a great locations for them to do so.
This is my first seeing all three types of whales in one trip. My guests and I were all very excited about all the wildlife we encountered today. I love days like these because it just reinforces how special these islands are!

Aimee, Naturalist-M/V Kittiwake
San Juan Safaris

L-Pod on the 4th!

Thursday, July 4th, 2013

Happy Forth of July everyone! It has been a fantastic day so far! We left our Friday Harbor location and headed out to the west side of the island near False Bay where we met some of our L-Pod members. Spirit, Skanna, and Solstice were there feeding on the Chinook Salmon that are slowly retuning back to the Salish Sea. Our Southern Resident Orcas will stay with their mother and family group their whole life; this means that our Orcas here have matriarchal societies. Spirit is Skanna and Solstice’s mother!

The whales were having a great time feeding and doing some tail slapping; it is great to have them back in the area again! Since we were right off of Lime Kiln Lighthouse, it was just as fast to go around the north side of the Island; therefore, our guests got to see all of San Juan Island! Along our way around the island, we saw Harbor Seals, Harbor Porpoise, and even a mated pair of Bald Eagles and their nest! Happy Fourth of July everyone!

Heather, Naturalist, M/V Sea Lion

San Juan Safaris

Mother Nature Gears Up For The 4th.

Wednesday, July 3rd, 2013

4th of July is right around the corner and the whales are here to help celebrate! Captain Craig, Andrew, and myself had two great trips today. We started the day off right with brilliant blue skies and not a cloud in sight. Our afternoon trip had a boat full of eager passengers ready to spot some resident orcas. With binoculars at the ready, we cruised along the west side of San Juan Island till we encountered a subgroup of L Pod. The group we watched for the remainder of our afternoon trip included: Spirit, L-22, and her two sons, Skana, L-79, and Solstice, L-89. We watched as this family foraged until it was time to head back in and get ready for our evening trip!

Unlike our afternoon trip, the evening trip had much more tempestuous seas heading south out of Friday Harbor. As we were passing through Cattle Pass, crew and passengers got to experience first hand just how fickle Mother Nature can be. Outfitted with bright yellow rain slickers, and holding on tight to railings, we were ready to brave the high seas in search of  L Pod. Once we passed Cattle Pass and made our way up past False Bay, the seas changed dramatically. Gone were the rocky seas, and replaced with glassy water. We were able to watch the same group of L Pod that we saw earlier in the day in smooth seas. Everyone, including the crew, was happy with the change! Instead of heading back into the tumultuous seas, Captain Craig took us north around San Juan Island. This gave passengers a full tour around San Juan Island! It was a great trip to be able to see all of San Juan, and also how drastic the change in seas can be from one location to the next! Aside from my very wet shoes, it was a great day on the water!


Caitlin, Naturalist- M/V Sea Lion, San Juan Safaris

Minkes, Harbor Seals, Harbor Porpoise etc… a great day for wildlife!!!

Monday, June 10th, 2013

Captain Mike, Andrew and myself left our Friday Harbor location today and headed south through the San Juan Channel and into Cattle Pass where we hoped to encounter some great whale activity. Along the way we stopped to say “hello” to my favorite small critters that are known to inhabit the Salish Sea: Harbor Seals. The harbor seals thrive on our large tidal difference here which create the upwellings they navigate through to hunt. Their whiskers on the front of their face are specially designed to help them hunt; they have nerve endings in them! They will use their large whiskers as “feelers” to explore anything foreign or unfamiliar. It’s always fun to see our seals forging in the water.

We cursed through Cattle pass and encountered a Minke whale foraging off the coast of False Bay. Minke whales are actually the smallest whale in the baleen family averaging a size of 25-30 feet long (about the size of an Orca). We hung out with our Minke friend for a while and enjoyed some great views during that time.

We also saw many Harbor Porpoise on the South side of San Juan Island in the Haro Straight. I always love it when we are able to shut our motor off and listen to the blow of the marine wildlife we are seeing. In the case of the Harbor Porpoise, they are actually quite shy; therefore, shutting our boat off give’s us a better chance of experiencing these animals and their behavior.

While we didn’t see our famous killer whales today, we saw a lot of wildlife and had a great day on the water! Just yesterday we were able to watch our killer whales but they can travel up to 100 miles in a day and were gone for our tour. We had lots of children on board today, their extra enthusiasm about all things small and large was both invigorating and helpful while pointing out all of the other wildlife to be seen in the San Juan Islands! All in all, we had a great day on the water!

Heather, Naturalist, Sea Lion

The Residents have returned to the Salish Sea!

Thursday, September 6th, 2012

Today we watched several members of L-Pod mill around near False Bay, San Juan Island. We got to travel with multiple groups of 1s and 2s including 3 large males and 3 females each bearing a youngster at their side. They all appeared to be very relaxed, milling around, and enjoying the simple things in life, being within the comfort of their own home. The family bond amongst them is like no other, and is quite apparent in their interaction. For these whales, it’s all or none, and no matter how much time they spend together, it will never be enough to drive them apart. Other than food and air, family seems to be enough for the Southern Residents….and maybe, just maybe, we can learn a thing or two from them.

Naturalist Tara, San Juan Safaris

8/22/12 Whale Report

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2012

3:00 PM: 20+ Southern Residents spread out in Haro Strait from False Bay to Lime Kiln State Park (48°27.57N 123°04.48W). Members of J and K pod including Grandma Samish (J14), Mother Hy’Shqa (J37) newborn J49, Deadhead (K27) and brother Scoter (K25). Widely spread, yet exceedingly active; breaching, spyhopping, lobtaillng and porpoising in every which direction.

Naturalist Tara, San Juan Safaris

Amazing Whale Watching Today!!!

Saturday, August 11th, 2012

Busy Saturday on the water today, but the whales didn’t seem to mind!!! Members of Jpod had spread out almost half the length of San Juan traveling south in Haro Strait between Lime Kiln and False Bay (48°32.15N, 123°00.87W). The first whale we encountered was Doublestuff (J34) rolling around and traveling amongst a few females enjoying the sunshine and family time.

The next group we came across was Hy’Shqa (J37) and her VERY new born calf J49 with Grandma Samish (J14) monitoring close behind. What a blessing to see the little one so healthy and keeping up right alongside mama!!!

Then we ran into Onyx (L87) foraging by his lonesome and out of nowhere popped up Blackberry (J27) right off our stern. I swear he has a “thing” for the Kittiwake because he always pays us a visit on that boat!

The last family we encountered were the J16s; Mama Slick (J16) leading her offspring and Big Mike (J26).

What an amazing day for whale watching! And the night cruise is yet to come…

Naturalist Tara, San Juan Safaris

West Side Residents

Friday, July 6th, 2012

Another beautiful, sunny, warm day around the San Juan Islands! And even better, killer whales were in no shortage. We left Friday Harbor heading south with word that there were whales along the west side of San Juan Island. But that wasn’t all we saw along the way to the whales; there were harbor seals soaking up some of the glorious sun as well as two large bald eagles perched high in the tree tops.

The whales came next, just off False Bay (48º 27.462’ N 123º 03.376’ W). We first saw a huge male who looked to be alone, but after a few more minutes we realized that there were whales scattered everywhere. The male was later identified as J-27 or “Blackberry” and another male around was identified as J-34 or “Doublestuf.” Then we saw a group of four females swimming close together. They surfaced almost in unison, allowing us to hear their powerful exhalations before diving back under. Finally, before having to head back we watched as the whales moved close to each other closer to the shore. They started to become playful: cartwheeling, lob tailing, and swimming upside down, allowing us to see their beautiful white undersides.

~Kristen, Naturalist, San Juan Safaris

Whale Report, June 28, 2012:

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

Today was another great day amongst our Southern Residents! We found members of J and K pods spread out in the strait, in groups of 3 or less, between Salmon Bank and False Bay (Haro Strait 48°27.07N, 123°04.02W). Some were foraging, some were resting, while others just appeared to be milling around in the calm seas.

After riding alongside one group, we would switch off to another, paying each small group a visit. We even saw a few adult breaches, which ironically occurred just after the rarity of such behavior was explained, giving everyone a little chuckle! Once everyone got some good looks and great shots, we huddled around an orca survey and successfully identified Shachi (J19), Racer (L72), and Onyx (L87). Case closed.

On our way back we were fortunate enough to witness a Minke Whale on the hunt, just south of Salmon Bank. The large whale took multiple lunges at a bait ball causing birds to go flying and guests to break out in laughter.

Couldn’t ask for much more than these amazing views, fun investigations, and shared moments of laughter!

Naturalist Tara and Shelly, San Juan Safaris

“Slick” Vocalizations

Saturday, June 23rd, 2012

It was all about the killer whales today as we left Friday Harbor heading south, but we did see a large group of harbor seals hauled out on a rocky island on the way. After rounding Cattle Point heading around the west side of the island, we spotted two members of J-pod just outside False Bay. It was an adult female and a smaller whale that looked like a calf.

The whales were traveling south but stopped moving and started to dive and surface in one spot. We turned off the boat to watch and see what they were up to. Then, we saw the white underside of the calf’s head followed by a squeaky sound. The whale was vocalizing above water! That is something I’ve never experienced before! The whole boat was silent and focused until the female, who we identified as J-16 or “Slick”, changed direction and surprised us by surfacing near our boat’s stern. The smaller calf followed, both sticking around for quite some time. It was amazing! After they swam away we circumnavigated San Juan Island before heading back to the harbor. Definitely one of my best days!

~Kristen, Naturalist, San Juan Safaris