Posts Tagged ‘friday harbor’

Transients out in San Juan Channel

Saturday, August 9th, 2014

It was busy out in San Juan Channel today with the 44th annual Shaw Island Classic Yacht Races, but it was definitely a great day for a sail and even a whale watch! For many of the sailors out there and our lucky guests, we were afforded some incredible looks at our Transient Killer Whales. Only ten minutes out of the harbor and we were already watching the Transient Orcas making their way back towards Friday Harbor. At one point they took a quick turn towards the inside passage of Turn Island. This added a bit of confusion for boats watching, but was a perfect opportunity to possibly pick off some unsuspecting harbor seals relaxing in the kelp beds. Once through the passage they headed for the shallows of Shaw Island. At this point their behavior changed drastically to tight-knit circling behavior that is very indicative of holding their prey underwater. I’m sure if we were able to stick around longer we may have even witnessed the celebratory behavior that is commonly associated with a kill. All in all it was a great whale watch right out in our front door. Never a dull moment with our Transients.

Caitlin,

Naturalist, San Juan Safaris, M/V Kittiwake

Travels to Canada for Transients

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

Today we had a gorgeous day on the M/V Kittiwake travelling up into Canadian waters to find a pod of transient orcas. These whales eat marine mammals, with harbor seals making up the majority of their diet. A male killer whale can eat over 400 pounds of food a day! We enjoyed watching a group of five individuals meandering up near Active Pass. Not only a great day with no fog, but also a great group on the boat!

Sarah, M/V Kittiwake, San Juan Safaris Whale Watching

Sunny Sunday with WHALES!

Sunday, July 27th, 2014

Today Captain Mike, Aimee and I started the day off with a lively charter out of Roche Harbor! We brought the M/V Sea Lion up from Friday Harbor to pick up a wonderful group. After a couple of days of no killer whales, it was awesome to see the Residents back in the Salish Sea. Oftentimes guests ask us when the whales will get to a certain area at a certain time, and no one can really answer that! The whales don’t work on the same time frame as we do, they work completely on salmon time! Residents eat only salmon and their movements are completely dictated by the presence, absence and movements of the salmon. We got to see many whales frolicking around Boundary Pass today, but most notably the K13 matriline and for the first time this season the L54s!!! We had a blast out on the water with such a festive group of whales and people!

Sarah, M/V Sea Lion, San Juan Safaris Whale Watching

Transients North of the Border!

Sunday, July 20th, 2014

Captain Jim and I got to the Kittiwake this morning with zero reports of whales. We were planning out an awesome wildlife tour where we would be looking for the orcas, other whales, and some of the other wildlife in the area, when we got a call that there were transient orcas north of Sucia Island and Alden Bank in Canadian waters! I was super stoked that the transients were back in, as I had not seen them in a while. We had beautiful smooth water as we traveled north from Friday Harbor, and the scenery was just as gorgeous. We got to see some great feeding behavior, as the transients munched down on what looked to be a harbor seal. Transients eat solely marine mammals, with harbor seals making up right around 60% of their diet. We also got to see the orcas travelling a bit! We enjoyed the scenery on the way back and I personally really enjoyed getting to know our guests on board today!

Naturalist Sarah, M/V Kittiwake, San Juan Safaris

Wonderful Day On the Water!

Friday, July 18th, 2014

Today we left Friday Harbor and headed South toward Cattle Point.  On the way to the area where the whale reports were we spotted some harbor seals with their pups and  a bald eagle.  We went through Cattle Pass and headed East to the southern side of Lopez Island.  Once we got to Iceberg Island we found the J17′s which include Princess Angeline and all of her offspring.  Traveling with the J17′s was K21 (Cappuccin).  We parked ourselves a respectful distance from the whale and allowed them to travel West past us as we watched them with our motor off.  We also got passed by the J22′s, better known as the cookie clan!  The whales were all headed West toward Salmon Bank.  We followed the whales to the South side of San Juan Island and then they began to relax and start milling around the area.  We saw some surface activity as well include tail slapping, cartwheels and breaching!  We then headed back to Friday Harbor and on the way we saw a juvenile bald eagle in flight.  Juvenile bald eagles commonly get confused with golden eagles due to their brown coloration.  It takes about 4-5 years for an eagle to get the adult plumage, consisting of the white head and tail feathers.  We had a perfect day for photography on the water.  There was a slight overcast and calm waters allowing for great quality pictures.  Our guests enjoyed their time on the water almost as much as we enjoyed having them!

Naturalist Rachel

M/V Sea Lion, San Juan Safaris

Whales, wonderful whales!

Wednesday, July 16th, 2014

Today Captain Mike and I had a beautiful cruise all the way around San Juan Island. We left Friday Harbor heading north with a report of orcas in Boundary Pass. We met up with a group of J Pod whales just north of Roche Harbor… AND they turned out to be my favorite family, the J16s! Slick, Mike, Alki and Echo are inseparable, a perfect example of the social structure of these amazing mammals! We spent some time with them and then left that group to follow a report of another group of orcas farther south along the west side of the island. We arrived on scene with a group of about four individuals from K Pod, and had the whales to ourselves! We even got to see some mating behavior! The water was beautifully smooth and everyone aboard had a wonderful time!

Naturalist Sarah, M/V Kittiwake, San Juan Safaris Whale Watching

Trifecta!

Sunday, July 6th, 2014

July 6th was an epic day here in the San Juan Islands! The afternoon trip was glorious as we headed to the reports of the southern residents and we spotted a humpback whale! We got a few awesome looks and got to see some sweet fluke up dives. We caught up with Jpod near Stuart Island. We got to see J2 Granny our 103 year old whale and L 87 Onyx who spends most of his time with Jpod. This was a great start to the day!

The evening trip was rocking too! We headed west this time and ran into a mixture of J, K, and L pod and they were excited. The water was mirror like and we saw a bunch of breaches and spy hops! The whales were pretty spread out so we got to spend some quality time with many different whales. As we headed home to Friday harbor we spotted that humpback again! With  a few surfacings and a couple of dives we continued on and we spotted a minke!!! We hit the trifecta of whales! Orcas, humpback and a minke whale! Wow, that doesn’t happen everyday and our guests and Naturalist were so excited! Let’s hope the month of July continues with action!

 

San Juan Safaris

M/V Sea lion

Naturalist Chelsea

Whale Search!

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

Today we arrived at the M/V Sea Lion with a report of Resident orcas traveling quickly to the southwest. Naturalist Aimee, Captain Pete and I consulted and decided that we would try to catch up with them! Orcas can swim over 100 miles in a single day and can reach speeds in excess of 35 miles per hour. We had a great group on board today who were very excited to be out on the water. We all were hoping that the orcas stayed close enough so that we could catch up with them!

On the way out to the reported orcas we took a slight detour to see a humpback whale! Humpbacks were once plentiful in this area, but were extirpated when the area was heavily whaled. It has only been within the last two decades that humpbacks have begun returning. We reached the orcas just in time to witness the most breaches I have seen on a trip yet this season. The whales definitely put on a show for the boat! Guests were certainly left extremely impressed with the whales’ acrobatics. On the way back to Friday Harbor we got to see some harbor seals and porpoises. Overall it was another amazing day on the Salish Sea!

Naturalist Sarah, M/V Sea Lion, San Juan Safaris Whale Watching

Minke madness with a bonus of orcas!

Saturday, June 21st, 2014

Today was an outstanding day on the water! The weather was gorgeous and warm and the water was flat calm. Spent the afternoon trip with some transients near Battleship island and a small part of J pod the J17s hanging out near turn point on Stuart island. Had many opportunities to see the whales in all their glory, with a number of breaches and spy hops, but this was just the first trip of the day.

I don’t know if it was the summer solstice or what but we had an amazing evening and sunset with the whales. We were making our way out to salmon bank area on the west side of San Juan Island and out of no where a minke whale pops up right next to the boat and does a slow dramatic dive and we all got to see the entire body. Now for those of you who have not done a lot of Minke watching this is amazing, normally you just catch a glance of their dorsal fin. This close surprise encounter happened twice on our trip. Truly amazing! We also caught up with most of L pod out there as well and got to spend some quality time with some of our favorites Nigel and Fluke.

Hope to  get some more great action tomorrow.

 

Naturalist Chelsea

M/V sea lion

Breaching Orcas!

Sunday, June 15th, 2014

Rained on and off throughout the day, but opened up to clear skies for our 2pm charter today. All passengers aboard the M/V Kittiwake were in full support of some sunshine and whales! Captain Jim is not one to disappoint, and with reports of resident orcas along the west side of San Juan Island, the whales were also in on making it a great day on the water! We made great time on our original San Juan Safaris vessel, the M/V Kittiwake, and made it just in time to see some of J pod members propelling their full bodies into the air for 2 spectacular breaches! Two seconds later and we would have missed the best part of the show. After a few breaches and a spy hop in the distance, the residents changed directions a bit and headed further northwest. The residents seemed to disperse more at this time, which is not unusual for them. Orcas rely heavily on sound- it is their main way to interact and navigate in their marine environment. They  can even hear each other over 10 miles away! Pretty incredible. We decided to stick with the residents for the remainder of our trip before we headed back to Friday Harbor with smiles on everyones face. All in all, it was a superb day for whale watching.

 

Caitlin, Naturalist, M/V Kittiwake

San Juan Safaris