Posts Tagged ‘Haro Strait’

Whale Bliss!

Friday, August 29th, 2014

We had a wonderful day on the water with some very goofy southern resident killer whales! We saw a mixture of J and K pods playing, rolling and breaching in Haro Strait. We saw a number of spyhops today as well. Killer whales have excellent eyesight, very much like our own, but they can only see about three feet above the water when they are under. In order to survey their surroundings they will spyhop, sticking their heads out of the water. We had a wonderful time enjoying the whales’ antics. Captain Mike, Chelsea, and I loved having such a wonderful group aboard today!

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

Transient Fun!

Thursday, August 28th, 2014

Today Captain Pete, Tyler and I headed out for a blustery day on Haro Strait. We headed North around San Juan Island and met up with a beautiful group of transient killer whales in the middle of the strait right on the US/Canadian border. Transients eat marine mammals (basically anything that we think is cute and cuddly) with harbor seals making up about 60% of their diet. Today we were fortunate enough to see the T37s and the T137As. We can identify individuals whales by looking at the markings and scars around their dorsal fins. Transients, because they eat animals that fight back, tend to be more scarred than the resident killer whales, who just eat salmon. We finished the trip with a good look at a bald eagle and some harbor seals around Spieden Island. It was another amazing day on the Salish Sea!

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

Orca Chess Match!

Saturday, August 23rd, 2014

Today Captain Jim and I set out on the M/V Kittiwake with two reports of orcas: one of transients to the north, and one of residents to the south. Oftentimes we joke that deciding where to go is a like a chess match…. the whales will make one move and then we have to respond. We are a member of the Pacific Whale Watch Association, so we are in constant communication with other captains on the water getting the most current information about the whale’s movement, which aids in decision making. Today we opted for the southern route to meet up with the resident whales. On the way out to meet up with the whales we encountered some Steller’s sea lions. These pinnipeds can weigh over 2,000 pounds, and are just returning from their breeding grounds in Alaska. After observing the sea lions for a few minutes, we traveled across Haro Strait to meet up with J-pod just outside of Victoria. It was great to see the “ressies” again after a few days of watching transients! The whales were being very playful… spyhopping, breaching out of the water, and breathing all together! J2 “Granny” (She’s estimated to be 103 years old, cool, right!!!???!!!) was right in the middle of the pod having a grand old time. We spent about 45 wonderful minutes with the joyful whales, and everyone on board was absolutely enthralled! We left to head back to Friday Harbor and ended up finding a minke whale! They are the second smallest species of baleen whale, and we got to see it feeding! Overall, it was an amazing day on the water and everyone agreed that we had definitely played a good chess game!

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

Resident Orcas traveling through Haro Strait-Thursday August 7th

Friday, August 8th, 2014

M/V Sea Lion departed Friday Harbor at 5:30pm and we traveled south through cattle pass. Guests were in for an adventure moving through four foot rolling waves! Once around the south end of the island, we encountered commercial fishing boats, so Captain Pete had to be on the lookout for nets in the water! Once we made it through all of that, we immediately spotted Orcas off False Bay. We encountered K-pod male, Cappuccino, searching for salmon. We also were able to see several other k-pod members playing with one another. Towards the end of our time with them, a younger orca started to breach! We ended our trip circumnavigating around San Juan Island!

 

Aimee
Naturalist, M/V Sea Lion, San Juan Safaris Whale Watch & Wildlife Tours

Couldn’t ask for a better day!

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

As we left San Juan Island yesterday, everyone couldn’t help but comment on what a phenomenal day it was.  Sunny skies, no wind, and flat calm glassy waters- oh, and the 40 or so killer whales that were in the area helped a little too! As Captain Mike, Chelsea and I motored out into the San Juan Channel, we made our way up to the north end of the Island where we met up with J and L Pod. For those of you who are just tuning in, J and L Pod are made up of Southern Resident Orcas, a group or killer whales that feed primarily on salmon. These whales were spread out over a six mile spread throughout Haro Straight fishing for the biggest and fattiest of all the salmon: Chinook salmon! We spent some quality time with everyone’s favorite’s including J19 and 41 (mother and daughter combo), L87, J27, L54, and L92. It was an amazing and peaceful day, with many breathtaking encounters. I really couldn’t have asked for a better day!

Heather, Naturalist, M/V Sea Lion

San Juan Safaris

Synchronized Orcas!

Sunday, September 8th, 2013

Today was another one of those magical days, sunny skies, flat water, and family groups of Resident Orcas everywhere. When the M/V Sea Lion got on scene with the whales we saw numerous dorsal fins and spouts in the distance, and they were all coming our way! As it turned out, all of LPod was there traveling together in the Haro Strait. I quickly calculated the number of dorsal fins and surmised that it had to be LPod since they have the largest pod size and most male Orcas. Male Orca dorsal fins are each to recognize morphologically speaking; their dorsals are, on average, 5-6 feet tall!

It was truly amazing seeing all 36 whales surfacing and breathing together. They Orcas were “resting” a term given to the behavior of Orcas when they come close together, surface more often, and move at a slow pace. In fact, the degree of biological kinship between individual Orcas is thought to be correlated with the degree of respiratory synchronicity. In other words, the rhythm of breaths serves as a behavioral display of family unity; and even possibly social familiarity and affection among Orcas.  It was very peaceful to see while listening to their vocalizations over the hydrophone.

I managed to narrow down who we were watching: L25-Ocean Sun (matriarch of L-Pod est. born 1928), L85- Mystery, L22- Spirit and L89- Solstice (Spirits son), L41- Mega, L77- Matia and her calf L119, L78- Gaia, and L92- Cruiser were among the many we saw! I can’t wait to get back out there tomorrow!!!

Heather, Naturalist, M/V Sea Lino

San Juan Safaris

Playful K-pod in Haro Strait

Saturday, July 20th, 2013

Captain Mike, Naturalist Kevin and myself were lucky enough to show our 1:30 guests and our 5:30 guests a playful K-pod! We departed from Friday Harbor and headed south for both trips to meet with the orcas on the west side of San Juan Island.
Our 1:30 guests were able to see our K-pod members just off of Lime Kiln State Park. We saw several of them breaching and porpoising throughout the water. We had one large male, Lobo, follow us and guests got a great view of the 20 year old male.
On our 5:30 trip, guests got to see the same group but a more playful group. It looked as though every member of K-pod was playing with one another. We had a lot of orcas breaching, spy hopping, and barrel rolls on the surface!
To end our trips we decided to circumnavigate San Juan Island. By going north this lets our guests get a view of the whole island and the beautiful scenery here!

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

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

A Minke for this Sunny Summer Day

Sunday, June 30th, 2013

With not a cloud in the sky today, Captain Mike, Naturalist Heather and myself departed Friday Harbor with our guests and headed south, to where Haro Strait and the Strait of Juan De Fuca meet, to check out a Minke whale. This Minke whale was very interesting to watch. I say interesting because usually Minke whales are very scattered and don’t surface in the same area. This Minke looked as though it was traveling in the same direction and kept going that one way. Most guests got some spectacular pictures of this Minke and what made it spectacular was having Mount Baker in the background. I love clear days like this because of the mountains in the area. We were south of San Juan Island and our guests were seeing the Olympic Mountains, Mount Baker, and even Mount Rainier. Usually being down south we can encounter some pretty rough water, but the water was like glass. It was an absolutely beautiful day out on the water!

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

Humback off of Hein Bank!

Thursday, June 27th, 2013

We left our Friday Harbor location today and headed south out the San Juan Channel, though Cattle Pass, and into the Haro Strait where we came across a Humpback Whale! This was the same Humpback that we saw last night right off the south end of San Juan Island. When we reached Hein Bank, the whale was heading toward Vancouver, BC. At first it was diving deep and staying down for about eight minutes at a time. Then, the whale seemed to have a change of pace and started swimming slowly toward the surface coming up for air many times in a five minute period. We call this “resting” behavior! We also got to see the large whale (about the size of our boat) roll through the water and tail slap! It was very fun to watch…!

We followed the Humpback to Middle Bank in the Canadian waters, at which point we had to turn around and head home. On our way home we saw lot’s of Harbor Porpoise, some Harbor Seals, and even a Bald Eagle and its nest! Even though the trip started off a little rainy and cold, it ended up being a great day on the water yet again!

Heather, Naturalist, M/V Sea Lion
San Juan Safaris