Posts Tagged ‘j pod’

Cetacean Madness!!!!!

Sunday, September 21st, 2014

Today Captain Mike, Naturalist Caitlin and I had a trip that we all agreed was the highlight of our season. We left Friday Harbor at 12:00pm and immediately stumbled across some harbor seals hauled out on some rocks. The seals need to lay in the sun to warm up as they have a very minimal layer of insulating fat known as blubber. With another stop to check out some nesting double-crested cormorants and some gulls, we headed out to find a minke whale on a glassy Haro Strait. We caught up with a minke whale while it was feeding and enjoyed watching it surface a few times in beautiful golden light. After about 20 minutes we left the minke to catch up with some orcas! We were delighted to have a report of southern residents (the salmon-eating whales) this late in the season. Though we see transient orcas all year round, the residents are usually here only when the salmon are running June through August. With that being said, we are having an excellent September for whale watching! We were delighted to see L72 Racer and her son L105 Fluke, as well as J28 and her son J46 Star. We enjoyed many breaches and great underwater vocalizations broadcasted from our on-board hydrophone. We had some excellent looks of whale sin both L and J pods. After leaving the orcas in Haro Strait we started to meander our way back to Friday Harbor, finding some northern sea lions and a bald eagle. As we rounded a corner, nearly back to the harbor,  the water around the M/V Sea Lion started to boil with over 150 Pacific white-sided dolphins. The dolphins played in our wake, bow rode, and lept out of the water. We were all so entranced that we ended up extending our trip by about 40 minutes! Today was the most incredible day on the water I have had the pleasure of witnessing. I will be dreaming of dolphins tonight.

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

The Thunder Rolls And The Orcas Strike!

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2014

AMAZING DAY ON THE WATER! We had rain, we had thunder, and most importantly we had a whole bunch of whales! It was a true Pacific Northwest day with lots and lots of whales. We met up with all of K pod and some members of J Pod. It was an amazing opportunity to see these whales moving together along the westside, but also to be surrounded by mother nature at its finest. Thunder rolling in the background, with whale blows in the distance, all in all it was an excellent day to be out on the water. Aside from a strong desire for some dry clothes, and a hot chocolate, everyone left with a smile on their faces as they were departing the M/V Sea Lion.

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

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

The best kind of whale watching!

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

Today was one of those amazing days where we had warm summer sun, flat glassy water, and southern resident killer whales all around! Guests headed out on the M/V Sea Lion headed out of Friday Harbor today and went to the southwest side of San Juan Island. The whales were very spread out, constant with foraging behavior. Captain Brian decided that the best way to watch these whales would be to shut our motor off and drift. If we were patient, we should get some awesome encounters, and that’s just what happened!

We saw many matrilines of killer whales as they passed by our shut down boat in search of there favorite food, Chinook Salmon. They were doing what we call the “west side shuffle”, feeding up and down the south end of San Juan Island. We got several close encounters by the passerby’s.  I can’t tell you how good it felt to literally only motor up once while watching these whales for the duration that we were on seen with killer whales. This way, when they came close to us, it was there choice entirely. We got some awesome vies of the J Pod and K Pod members including J22 (mom), J34, J28, K 20 (mom), and K38 (who was trying his hardest to catch the fist he was chasing off our bow at one point)! Everyone was commenting on how nice it was to be able to hear the whales, and get grate views while not impacting them in the slightest! What a great trip!!

Heather, Naturalist, M/V Sea Lion

San Juan Safaris

So much wildlife!! Oh, and killer whales too!!

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2014

Today the M/V Sea Lion had two great trips on the water- both located on the west side of San Juan Island. We left the docs with lots of questions and enthusiastic people just waiting to see some wildlife! Naturalist Chelsea and I feed on that kind of enthusiasm and love to answer all kind of questions. Among killer whales, we ended up seeing copious amounts of harbor seals, bald eagles, and even a pair of peregrine falcons!! It’s rare in the parts to see the peregrine falcon since they were listed on the endangered species list years ago, so we were all very excited to see them!

It’s pupping season for harbor seals here in the Salish Sea, and we ended up seeing plenty of mom and pup pairs- they are just so cute!! Those pups are what bring the transient orcas into these waters this time of year; however, today we ended up catching up with members of K and J Pod. K and J Pod are what’s known as our southern resident killer whales, and feed primarily on the Chinook Salmon that migrate through the area at predictable times of year to spawn. The resident killer whales that we saw were porpoising through the water, propelling their entire body out of the water so they can move easier at fast speeds! It was just incredible to watch! Towards the end, the whales seemed to fan out more, and entered into a foraging pattern. It was yet another great day on the water!!

 

Heather, Naturalist, M/V Sea Lion

San Juan Safaris Orca Whale Watching

Orcas on the West Side!

Monday, July 21st, 2014

What a day! We had two amazing trips with yet another beautiful San Juan Island day. The waters were calm and glassy, making it look like the orcas just glide through glass. Today was a particularly special day for me because I had a couple of my college professors out on our afternoon tour with us. If it’s one thing I know, it’s the orcas out here. It was amazing to be able to educate them, and the rest of the guests aboard, about the social structure, culture, anatomy, and family’s of the southern resident killer whales. What a treat!

We ended up going to the west side of San Juan Island and catching up with members of J and K Pod! We first saw the man himself- Mr. Cappuccino, K21, born in 1986. His two open saddle patches with the thick black streaks in them make him unmistakable! He cruised past us slowly, along with the matriline he usually travels with, the K16′s: Opus and Sonata. Sonata is a “sprouting male” who is just reaching sexual maturity. In the next 5-7 years, his dorsal fin will take off in growth, and will continue to grow until his early 20′s! We also saw members of the “Cookie Clan”: J36, Cookie, and J34, a local favorite named Doublestuf. Doublestuf was born in 1996, so he has not yet finished growing as well. The day was full of laughter, learning, and amazing sights of our salmon-eating resident killer whales. I couldn’t have asked for a better trip!

Heather, Naturalist, M/V Sea Lion

San Juan Safaris Orca Whale Watching

Residents back on the west side this evening!

Sunday, July 20th, 2014

Woo! After a few days without our residents I was feeling a little separation anxiety from them. Not that our whale watches haven’t been awesome with the transients but I was missing the regular residents. As we headed out on our 5:30pm sunset whale watch we heard the reports that a mixture of J, K, and L pods were heading our way from Victoria! The whales booked it our way and we caught up with them around Eagle Point and traveled north with them all the way past Lime Kiln to Andrews Bay. Along the way we watched them porpoise and travel speeds close to 10 knots!! We got some nice close looks at the J14s, and many other whales that were moving too fast to get a confirmed ID. It was a beautiful trip and we got to circumnavigate San Juan Island.

Naturalist Chelsea

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

Breach!

Saturday, July 5th, 2014

I saw more whales breaching today than any other whale watch I have ever been on!  Just off the southern west side of San Juan Island we were able to witness the super pod greeting ceremony of the southern resident killer whales. This super pod is referring to J , K, and L pods being in one area where they come back together in a place with a high density of food ( chinook salmon) to potentially breed and share knowledge and customs. But what does this mean for a whale watching boat? Lots of surface activity!!!! We saw so many breaches, cartwheels, tail slaps, and just general splashing, our guests didn’t even know which way to look! This is definitely a day that naturalists live for and I am so happy I was on the water today! Hopefully the whales will still be around tomorrow!!!

 

San Juan Safaris

M/V Sea lion

Naturalit Chelsea