Posts Tagged ‘san juan islands’

International Travelers

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

Today we headed north on a wildlife adventure!  Incredible scenery through the northern San Juan Islands; we passed by Spieden Island first.  Adult male mouflon sheep were grazing near shore; their large and round horns are quite a sight.  Several females were also resting in the grass close by.  We also spotted a bald eagle at the top of a tree looking out for its next meal.  A harbor seal was resting with her pup on a mattress of rockweed, a type of seaweed, up against the shoreline.  These pups nurse for about six weeks and then it is time to learn to hunt for fish.  As we turned toward Stuart Island, we kept a lookout for any splashing at the surface.  Harbor porpoise would quickly pop up, and down they would dive.  Once we crossed Boundary Pass, we hugged the shoreline of Saturna Island.  We were in Canada!  We moved through these waters for a period of time, on the lookout for large marine mammals.  We turned back toward Waldron Island and sure enough, the elusive minke whale (48°41.44N, 123°05.42W).  Surrounded by seabirds, including rhinoceros auklets, common murres, and glaucous-winged gulls, a bait ball was just under the surface.  Several surfaces by the minke allowed us to see that curved dorsal fin and pointed rostrum, or snout.  After watching the minke for several minutes, we returned to Friday Harbor under sunny skies.  So much to see while on the water!

SJS Naturalist Jenny

Orca Whale Photos off San Juan Island Washington

Wednesday, August 15th, 2012

Herb Hartman, photographer, has gone out whale watching with us so many times that he is considered an honorary staff member.
Here are photos from his two tours, one at 1:30 and one at 5:30 from August 13, 2012.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

Minkes today!

Although our Southern Resident Killer Whales were nowhere to be found today, we did have luck finding Minke Whales. Not just one, but two (maybe even 3!) Minkes were in the Salmon Banks area, on the south side of San Juan Island (48°25.33’N, 122°59.94’W). Just rounding the corner out of Friday Harbor, a Bald Eagle majestically perched at the top of a fir on Turn Island. On the way out of San Juan Channel, eight Stellar Sea Lions sunned themselves on Whale Rocks, while young Harbor Seal pups seemed to be everyone in the water.  On Goose Island, Glaucous Winged Gull chicks still covered the east side of the rocks, while Cormorants sunned themselves near the water’s edge. Along with the wild life viewing, today’s sunny weather, and an exciting current racing with the flood tide through Cattle Pass, it was another excellent day on the water!

Shelly, Naturalist

 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Tuesday, August 7th, 2012

Fantastic wildlife viewing today! Caught up with Southern Resident Killer Whales off East Point, Saturna Island, BC (48°27.25N, 123°02.35W). Viewed a large group of tightly packed members of J Pod, with J-37 (Hy’Shqa) and new baby tucked in between, moving westerly off Saturna Island at a slow pace. Lots of tail slapping, lob tailing, breaching, spy-hopping. Saw Bald Eagles in the trees and sitting on the rocks off Cactus Island. Guests witnessed a breathtaking dive bomb to the water by an eagle, who successfully emerged with a fish, then landed on a rock and started eating. Excellent wildlife viewing, warm weather, and mellow seas made for another amazing day on the Salish Sea.

Shelly, Tara, and Jenny, Naturalist for San Juan Safaris

Humpback and Eagles

Saturday, August 4th, 2012

We held off long enough, but it seems like summer finally made it’s way to the San Juan Islands! Absolutely beautiful afternoon, super clear skies and super flat seas. We left Friday Harbor heading north with word of a humpback whale in the area. We spotted the distinct, 10 foot plus blow of a large humpback whale just off the west end of Stuart Island. It was traveling north east around Turn Point before making a b-line across the US boarder into Canadian waters. It surfaced two, three, up to four times before living up to it’s name and “humping,” waving it’s fluke in the air before it disappeared and was down for about three to four minutes.We watched this for a while until the pattern was broken when the whale decided to lunge out of the water! It was awesome!

Bald eagles were also everywhere! Both on our way out and back we could spot eagles in the trees. Plus, we were able to see some harbor seals and pups before getting back to the harbor.

~Kristen, Naturalist, San Juan Safaris

Transients Orcas and Summer weather!

Saturday, May 26th, 2012

Transients Orcas and Summer weather!

Fantastic day on the water:  treated to clear skies, summery temps, and a stunning view of Mt. Baker, we traveled north out of Friday Harbor, around the north side of Orcas Island, until catching up with Transient Orcas on the north side of Lummi Island. Counts varied, depending on who you talked to, but we agreed that we did see 7 total. Latitude 48°44’ Longitude 122°45’. As mesmerized as we were by the orcas, it was hard not to notice the many pairs of Rhinocerus Auklets calmly floating by, as well as a pair of Loons. Our day would not be complete without a Bald Eagle sighting, which was our final reward when a stately adult sailed overhead as we entered back into the marina.

Naturalists Shelly and Tara, San Juan Safaris

Calm Seas Bring Out the Wildlife

Saturday, May 19th, 2012

For a day where the weather forecast predicted rain, it was awfully sunny and calm in the San Juan Islands today! As we left Friday Harbor we stopped to view a California sea lion hauled out on a buoy right outside the  harbor. We then headed south towards Salmon Bank to look for minke whales since the water was like glass, the perfect condition for spotting minkes! But before getting there we were able to see harbor seals hauled out and in the water, double crested cormorants on Goose Island, and a single, giant male steller sea lion hauled out on Whale Rocks. It was rubbing all over the rocks; a very cool behavior!

At salmon bank it wasn’t long before we spotted a minke in the not so far distance. It surfaced twice and then disappeared. We turned around eager to spot more, but came across two more steller sea lions thrashing around in the water. A flash of a fish in it’s mouth and swarming gulls told us they were foraging! Finally at 48o 24.0930′ N, 122o59.0386′ W another minke was seen. We watched for a while before heading to Long Island where we saw a single bald eagle next to its huge nest. Finally, back in San Juan Channel there were two groups of at least six harbor porpoises on either side of our boat, still surfacing as we made our way back.

Kristen, Naturalist, San Juan Safaris

Harbor Day

Thursday, May 10th, 2012

The name of the game today was Harbor. Harbor Seals and Harbor Porpoises were everywhere in the Salish Sea today. We started by heading north out of Friday Harbor. Our first stop was Spieden Island, where we saw not only mouflon sheep and sika deer, but at least six bald eagles flying over the tree tops. Two of them left the island and flew straight over our boat! We also spotted harbor seals everywhere! They were hauled out on just about every rocky island. We then headed towards Mandarte island where double crested cormorants and gulls were nesting and flying above. Then, off Turn Point we spotted harbor porpoises all around the boat! Coming up multiple times so that we were able to get a good look. Plus, there were more bald eagles! Two were perched at the top of a tree, and three more were circling above Stuart Island. Finally, on the way back there were two Steller sea lions off the south tip of Spieden Island.

~Kristen, Naturalist, San Juan Safaris

Whale Watching & Wildlife Report Tuesday April 24, 2012

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

Leaving Friday Harbor under solid grey skies, a damp drizzle, no wind, very calm seas, and a last minute report that Transient Orcas were on the west side of San Juan Island, we headed north and quickly made our way to the west side via Spieden Channel  in anticipation of running into the northern-bound whales.

It wasn’t until Pile Point though, before we caught up with 3 of the T-100’s, including T101 and T102 (48°28’N, 123°05’W), traveling south from Pile Point off the west side of San Juan Island. Another group of Transients were reported behind us (6 or 7). We stayed with the T-100’s till the Salmon Banks buoy before heading towards Cattle Pass and home.  A stop at Whale Rocks gave us great viewing of hauled out Stellar Sea lions covering one end, while several more milled about in the water.  And, just like yesterday, we found several groups of Harbor Porpoises foraging in San Juan Channel, between Lopez Island and Turn Island. It was also a great day for viewing Bald Eagles. We found them perched in tree tops, posed on the top of rocks, and even one sitting on a rocky beach on the north end of San Juan Island.

Another perfect day in the Northwest!

Naturalist Shelly and Captain Mike

A Warm Spring Day of Whale & Wildlife Watching from Friday Harbor, San Juan Island

Sunday, April 22nd, 2012

California Sea Lion

California Sea Lion

A Warm Spring Day of Whale & Wildlife Watching from Friday Harbor, San Juan Island

Today we took off with reports of our resident orcas coming north on the west side of San Juan Island.

We headed out of Friday Harbor going north making a stop at NWR Yellow Island, and rock outcroppings with 43+ snoozing Harbor Seals.   We made our way along the coast of Speiden Island. Often times this is a great place to spot Bald Eagles – no Eagle this time.  But we did see about 10 Sea Lions. All but one was a Stellar. The other was a California Sea Lion -deep dark brown in color with the telltale knot on his forehead as if he had been clobbered.

We made our way slowly into Haro Straight between Henry Island and Stuart Island. Up came dorsals. Out came whale breath. Over all there may have been 15 – 20 animals. They were traveling in small groups of 6 – 8 and it appeared to me that they were in a resting-style mode. 

Residents can be very vocal. No vocalizations today – we dropped the hydrophone three separate times.
Residents can be very playful and energetic. None of that today. Lots of slow “up” and sinking back “down”.  The water was glass-like. No wind. No noise. It felt very peaceful bobbing in the water with the engine off.

On the way home we did see at least two mature bald eagles, one in a nest. The boat made another quick stop on the end of Speiden. The Stellars and California Sea Lions were still in the water where we left them.  Just before pulling into Friday Harbor we spotted a California Sea Lion hogging a red buoy. I think I saw some zzzzzz’s over his head.

And there was one Common Murre fishing next to the buoy to complete our wildlife viewing for today.

Naturalist, Colleen Johansen
San Juan Safaris Whale & Wildlife  Watching