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