Posts Tagged ‘san juan island’

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

Sunny Day with L-pod!

Sunday, September 7th, 2014

Yet another beautiful late summer day with the Southern Residents! We had a spectacular afternoon full of breaching, tail lobbing and porpoising…. generally very happy orcas! Today we enjoyed the company of a couple of different L-pod families. We spent the most time with the L54s (L54 “Ino” and her calves L108 “Coho” & L117 “Keta”) who were joined by some of my favorite males: L92 “Crewser”, L88 “Wave Walker”, and L84 “Nyssa”. Wave Walker and Nyssa are the last remaining members of their matrilineal lines, so they are often seen travelling with other families. After yesterday’s news of the new L-pod baby we all were keeping our eyes out for the newest addition to the Southern Resident Community, but alas L86 “Surprise!” and her brand new calf L120 were not with the group we saw today. After spending some time with the killer whales we found Steller’s sea lions hauled out on some rocks and were also fortunate to find two bald eagles! The water was like glass all afternoon, and the light was absolutely beautiful. Overall, a great afternoon on the water!

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

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

Transients At Our Front Door!

Wednesday, August 27th, 2014

Another magical day on the water, and this was even closer to home than usual! M/V Sea Lion motored out of Friday Harbor for a mere 10 minutes before we were greeted with the sight of blows in the distance. The blows belonged to non-other than the T-65A’s, a mom and her offspring, that were combing the east side of the island for some tasty treats. It appeared that this was no problem for our marine-mammal eating orcas, since we saw a Harbor porpoise propel itself out of the water to escape it’s underwater predators. We never did see the Harbor Porpoise surface again, but we did see some tight circling behavior with loads of tail slaps, and even an adorable head stand from the youngest of the T-65A’s. The youngest was first seen March 27th, 2014! It looked like quite the feast for these transient orcas, and also a great show for guests aboard the M/V Sea Lion! Absolute success! Hope tomorrow will be just as eventful.

 

Caitlin,

Naturalist, M/V Sea Lion

San Juan Safaris

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

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

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

Orcas, Minkes, Seals, and Sea Lions!

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

This morning we had early reports of the K14s traveling along the west side of San Juan Island. We had a morning trip and were excited to get going. Captain Jim took myself and our guests south in order to encounter the orcas. Along the way our guests were able to enjoy Harbor Seals and Northern Sea Lions! Once we got to the Orcas, guests were able to see an adult male and a young male swimming side by side! It appeared as though this family group was just traveling and searching for food. Captain Jim then heard of a report of a Minke whale close by and we decided to go check it out! Guests were able to see some great lunge feeding behaviors from this Minke. This type of whale is a baleen whale so they are able to expand their throat and engulf a lot of water which has the food they are looking for. After getting some great views of the Minke we went to take once last look at the Orcas, Harbor Seals, and Northern Sea Lions! Once getting back to the dock, the guests were very happy about all the wildlife they were able to encounter!

 

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

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

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