Posts Tagged ‘Humpback Whale’

Fantastic Day Filled With Orcas and Humpacks….And A Tufted Puffin!

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

We had fantastic weather and wildlife viewing today aboard our afternoon M/V Sea Lion trip.  We found our resident orcas, humpbacks, minkes, stellar sea lions, and even a tufted puffin! We headed to Salmon Bank and found J pod cruising the waters looking for food and were even lucky enough to witness some mating behaviors, and followed them along the west side of San Juan Island.  After an incredible show from J pod we came across a mom and calf humpback whale, and the calf was extremely playful.  We had repeated spyhops from the little calf as it played with the kelp patties!!! Quite a treat.  On our way in we spotted several stellar sea lions sunning themselves in the warm mid afternoon sun.  While watching the sea lions we even had a surprise minke visit.  Then we started cruising back, and just when we didn’t think we could possibly spot anything more exciting we spotted a tufted puffin, perched beside in the San Juan channel.  What a trip!!


Caitlin, Naturalist

San Juan Safaris, M/V Sea Lion

Humpbacks on Kelp Reef

Saturday, October 5th, 2013

We left Friday Harbor yesterday, like many fall day, with no whale reports! However, as we headed out through Cattle Pass we heard of a humpback whale on Kelp Reef! The one humpback soon became two and the M/V Sea Lion headed straight there! Along the way we came across some great dall porpoise activity! They are so much fun, you can tell where they will be because they swim so fast that they leave a trail on the surface of the water! They spent probably ten minuets playing alongside the bow of the Lion!

When we got to the humpbacks they were traveling at a slow speed, surfacing many times. They were resting. It seemed very tranquil to see these large, gentle giants close up and not in a hurry to get anywhere. When they surface so close to our boat, you really get an appreciate for their size! They are actually bigger (longer) than our boat! Super cool!

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

Humpbacks and Orcas?!?!

Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

On  this unusually sunny afternoon (for fall at least), M/V Sea Lion left San Juan Island and prepared to go the distance. We were on our way to Victoria, BC where there were reports of some whales! On our way out we came across some dalls porpoise in the San Juan Channel. The dalls were playing in our wake then, as quickly as they surfaced, disappeared. It was a nice surprise, and we also got to spend some time with steller sea lions!

When we got on seen in the Straight of Juan de Fuca with two humpback whales with Port Angelas in the distance they were surfacing quite a bit. We got to see their large bodies roll though the water and guests were very impressed when I told them the whales were about the same size of our boat! However, it wasn’t long before we were on to Trial Island off of Victoria, BC to check out three transient (mammal hunting) orcas. The T10 group were hunting for harbor seals. At one point, I saw a seal head right above the orcas and healed my breath! I figured the whales would have a tasty snack right in front of our eyes! But, they let the little harbor seal live to tell the tail! It was a great day, flat water, somewhat sunny skys, and two kinds of whales!!

Heather, Naturalist, M/V Sea Lion

San Juan Safaris

Orcas, Humpback, and Minke Whales all in one Trip?!?

Sunday, September 1st, 2013

What a day, I don’t even know where to begin on this blog! Today was one of those days (we seem to have those quite frequently) where you just couldn’t look anywhere without seeing something cool! We had a whale “Trifecta” day where we saw a Minke Whale, Humpback Whale, and Orcas! It was incredible. We no sooner got done looking at our Humpback (which decided to surface literally three feet from our boat) and we had another whale to look at! I think our major problem today was deciding how long to spend with each whale!

These whales are all a very important part of the ecosystem dynamics and feed on different things. The baleen whales (Humpbacks and Minkes) feed on small schooling fish like Krill, San Lance and Herring while the Transient Orcas may feed on them. I was a little concerned for Mr.Minke when the Transient- mammal hunting- Orcas went right through the area that we were viewing the Minke whale from. It wasn’t too long ago when a Minke whale was attacked and killed by a small group of Transient Orcas… However, it looks like both the Minke and Humpback will live to see another day; something I must admit I’m pretty happy about!

We had sunny skys, little wind, calm water and happy guests. We also saw lots of Steller Sea Lions, Porpoise, and Harbor Seals. With the close encounters both of our whale watching boats received from all three whales today, this day is going to be hard to beat!

Heather, Naturalist, M/V Sea Lion and Kittiwake

San Juan Safaris



It Was One Awfully “Spirited” Trip!

Friday, July 5th, 2013

As we left for our tour on the M/V Sea Lion, the sun was shinning bright and the breeze was warm. As we picked up though, the air turned cool and the waters of Cattle Pass were whirling around as the tidal exchange was creating up-welling zones. We were all preparing to see some great wildlife with the reports of many different whales. Before we got on seen with the whales we got to see what I refer to as “Harbor Seal soup” were all of the seals are in the water foraging and we have tons of cute big-eyed mammals looking up at us!

As we rounded the corner of the south end of the San Juan Island we saw boats up ahead near False Bay. L-Pod was there, and as we arrived I quickly picked out our family of three: Spirit (L-22), Skanna (L-79), and Solstice (L-89). This small family group has been in the Salish Sea the most through June and now July, so we’ve really had time to get to know them. Spirit is no longer reproductive and her line has ended since Solstice and Skanna are both male. The Southern Resident Killer Whales have matrilineal societies; family lines are actually passed down through female succession and not male. Skanna was born in 1989 and Solstice in 1993.

Our guests always like to see the male Orcas better since their dorsal fins are so large and they simply radiate power. Today however, it was Spirits turn to shine. She lept out of the water six or seven times as if to say “hey, I’m cool too, watch what I can do”! It was amazing to see how effortlessly she sailed through the air and back into the water right off of our stern. You certainly get an appreciation for these seven to eight ton whales when their whole body is out of the water!

What a show it was today… we even saw a Minke and Humpback whale too! And, when we were waiting for the Minke to surface we had Harbor Porpoise surface feet from our bow! It was a great trip, I can’t wait to get back out on the water. No two trips are the same, and no two days are the same. You just never know what your going to see out here!

Heather, 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

A Plethora of Whales!

Friday, June 21st, 2013

It was a beautiful day to be on the water! We left Friday Harbor and headed south through Cattle Pass and into the Haro Strait where we hoped to encounter some whales. On our way out, we came across numerous Harbor Seals that were utilizing the the upwellings created by the tidal current. These upwellings are a great place for the Harbor Seals to forage and we love seeing their little heads bobbing up and down in the water!

When we got on scene with the whales Keven and I quickly identified the whales as the “L-12″ group. My favorite, Mega (L-41), Mystery (L-85) and even Ocean Sun (L-25) who was estimated to be born in 1928! Ocean Sun is the oldest female in L pod; and, as we know, male killer whales will stay with their mother and family group their entire life- they’re big Mamma’s Boys!

Not only did we see our Resident L Pod today, but we also saw a Humpback Whale and Minke Whale foraging! It was great to see such a diversity of whales today, we were all lucky to be on such an amazing tour! All in all, it was a great day!

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

Southern Residents and a Humpback

Sunday, June 2nd, 2013

Another beautiful day on the water. Leaving Friday Harbor Captain Mike, myself and our guests, once again traveled north along San Juan Island before reaching the west side of Henry Island where we met up with northbound traveling J pod as well as the small group from L pod, the L12s. Right away we saw one of my favorite group of whales from J pod, the “Cookie Clan” consisting of J22 (Oreo), J34 (Doublestuff), and J38 (cookie).
As the whales traveled right next to Henry island we dropped our hydrophone in the water and instantly began to hear the calls of J pod. The looks on the faces of our guests when hearing this amazing sound is priceless.
Each pod of Orcas in the Southern Community has a signature call that is specific to their pod, a way for the Orcas to differentiate themselves by sound.
We continued to travel north with the whales until it was time to head back to port. After leaving the Orcas we heard reports of a Humpback Whale traveling south along Orcas Island. With not much of a detour we caught up the Humpback near Waldron Island next to Orcas Island. It didn’t take long before we recognized this Humpback that has been in our waters for almost a month. This whale has been cataloged as PCY0324.
It’s not often you see both Orcas and Humpbacks on the same trip but it looks like this will start to be more common.
Amazing day on the water!

Kevin, Naturalist, San Juan Safaris

Strait of Georgia Humpback

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

After leaving our slip in Friday Harbor we were greeted with beautiful calm waters in San Juan Channel. Our destination today was north in to the Canadian waters hopefully to catch up with a Humpback whale spotted earlier in the day.
After a scenic ride north we entered the Strait of Georgia around East Point of Saturna Island where the Humpback was spotted just north of Tumbo Island. This whale was fairly non-directional possibly in a feeding behavior. This has been a excellent spring with Humpback Whale sightings.
Humpback Whales of the Northeast Pacific have been making a steady comeback over the last two decades. In the mid 90′s the estimated numbers were around 4000. Today the estimations are over 15,000 which means more and more Humpbacks are coming in to the Salish Sea. An incredible animal that we all hope will continue to be a common sight around the San Juan Islands.

Kevin, Naturalist, San Juan Safaris

Sunday Whale Watching Off San Juan Island

Monday, October 8th, 2012

Seals basking on rock outcrops. A Minke whale in Griffin Bay. A Stellar sea lion wrestling with an OCTOPUS? Yes at Cattle Pass.  Harbor porpoise on the port side! The sea lion won. Then off to Hein Bank to view a Humpback whale. One single humpback lazily coming up for air, then a 5 minute dive – going to Victoria.

What a day.