Posts Tagged ‘San Juan Safaris’

A Great day for Js!

Thursday, May 28th, 2015

After shooting to the North last Saturday night, J Pod had disappeared. The whale watching fleet had gotten no reports and all of the hydrophones in the Salish Sea had been silent to the melodious calls of the Js…. UNTIL THIS MORNING! We got to the M/V Sea Lion and had a flurry of reports of all 28 members of J Pod traveling south down the West Side of San Juan Island. And were they ever! It was like watching whale popcorn out on the water today, everywhere you looked there was a whale breaching out of the water, pec slapping, tail lobbing, or cartwheeling. We got looks at all three of the new J Pod calves (J50, J51, J52), awesome views of the J22 matriline (J22 Oreo, J34 Doublestuf, J38 Cookie), as well as crowd favorites J27 Blackberry, J31 Tsuchi and J39 Mako. After leaving the whales we headed to Whale Rocks right off the Southern Tip of San Juan to view some Steller’s sea lions. These guys can grow to be about 12 feet long and right around 2000 pounds! We rounded off the day with a great view of a bald eagle! It was an absolutely amazing day that none of us will soon forget!

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

Orcas at East Point

Friday, May 22nd, 2015

Today Captain Mike left the dock with rumors of Orcas from J pod near Saturna Island. As we made our way north out of Friday Harbor, we had calm water and awesome views of bald eagles, harbor seals and even a few harbor porpoise. After cruising in gorgeous weather with views of the San Juan Islands, we arrived at Java rocks to see Killer whales from J pod! after seeing several females and the dorsal fin of a tiny calf, we realized that it was the J 16 matriline. The whole crew was present, including the matriarch J 16 (slick), her daughters J 36 (Alki) and J 42 (Echo) and her very recognizable son J 26 (Mike). In addition we saw J 50 and J 52, two of the newest additions to J pod! Both of these calves are descendants of Slick, J 50 is her daughter (making Slick, at age 42, the oldest female to have a calf) and J 52 is the daughter of Alki. Slick must still be excited about being a new mother and grandmother, because we saw her perform a series of very impressive breaches! There is nothing like seeing a full grown, black and white killer whale completely out of the water.

At first the pod was quite spread out, but we did get to see them come together, some great breaching, some very cute calf swimming, and some tail in the air as some pod members did some synchronous diving. That was our cue to say goodbye and begin heading back down south. On our return journey, we got to see some more bald eagles on Spieden island and lots of seals hanging out on some exposed rocks near the Cactus Islands. All in all a great trip with some wonderful weather, fantastic whale sightings and good times had by all!

Naturalist Mike J

M/V Sea Lion, San Juan Safaris

Orcas at Point Roberts

Thursday, May 21st, 2015

Today we left the dock on the M/V Sea Lion with a gorgeous day on our hands.  We had reports of J Pod up North heading South towards Point Roberts.  We headed in that direction and had a nice cruise through the San Juans towards the whale reports.  On our way we stopped at East Point and got to see some harbor seals as well as some Stellar sea lions.  We got to see first hand some of the main differences between the sea lions and seals.  One of those differences is the sea lions ability to rotate their long flippers allowing them to walk on all fours.  Compared to seals which have short flippers and basically flop around on land.  Once we reached Point Roberts we got to see the J16 matriline which includes J16 (Slick) Her four offspring J26 (Mike), J42 (Echo), J50 (New baby!), and J36 (Alki) as well as J36′s new baby J52.  We watched the two new calves, which are about two months old, tail slapping and breaching while keeping up with the foraging family.  After looking at all the females we then went and saw J26, who was doing his own thing a little ways a way from the females.  After watching the whales feed for some time we decided to head back towards Friday Harbor through President Channel.  We couldn’t have asked for a more beautiful day out on the water today!

Naturalist Rachel

M/V Sea Lion, San Juan Safaris

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

Relaxing Day On the Water

Thursday, September 4th, 2014

Today we left Friday Harbor with reports of transient orcas North of Waldron Island.  Transient orcas are the mammal eating types of orcas that feed primarily or harbor seals in our area.  We met up with the whale in the Strait of Georgia where we saw the whole family traveling together in a tight group.  Specifically the whale were the T65A’s which consist of T65A and her four offspring, the youngest being born this past March.  The family was moving North up the Strait of Georgia at a nice steady pace.  We watched the family for some time and then headed back towards Friday Harbor.  On the way home we saw a large group of harbor seals hauled out onto a rock near East Point.  As we got closer to Friday harbor we  were pleasantly surprised by a stellar sea lion swimming in the water!  Then about 50 feet away we saw a harbor seal swim through the water.  This was a great way for guests to get an idea of how big stellar sea lions are.  Harbor seals weigh about 200 pounds while stellar sea lions can way up to 2,000 pounds!  We had a beautiful relaxing day out on the water and the guests all seemed to enjoy seeing a family of transient orcas.

Naturalist Rachel

M/V Sea Lion, San Juan Safaris

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

Granny and her family!

Sunday, August 17th, 2014

Yesterday afternoon we left Friday harbor and headed south towards reports of whales on the South side of San Juan Island.  On our way down to that area we stopped to look at some huge stellar sea lions.  Did you know that male stellar sea lions get up to 2,000 pounds?  Once we got a good look at those sea lions we headed around the south side of San Juan Island and came across the J2′s.  The J2′s are Granny’s family and all of her living descendants.  The group includes J2 (Granny), her granddaughter J14 (Samish), her great-granddaughters J37 (Hy’Shqa), J45 (Se-Yi’-Chn), and her great-great-grandson J49 (T’ilem I’nges).  We also were surprised by some pacific white sided dolphins as well!  The dolphins were seen riding in our boats wake and leaping out of the water frequently!  We enjoyed watching J2 and her family interact and forage for the day.  When the day started out we had quite a bit of fog in the area but thankfully in burned up and gave us a great afternoon out on the water.

Naturalist Rachel

M/V Sea Lion, San Juan Safaris

Rainy Day With Whales

Wednesday, August 13th, 2014

Today we left Friday harbor and headed North towards East Point.  On the way North we stopped at Flattop Island and found some harbor seals and two bald eagles.  One eagle was an adult another was a juvenile that was feeding on a fish.  We continued towards to whales.  We found the whales a little South of East Point.  The first whale we saw was J2 (Granny) and she gave us a great look!  Granny is estimated to be the oldest orca in the world at 103 years old! We then watched L87 (Onyx) go by.  Onyx was adopted by Granny in 2010 when his mother passed away and is now always seen traveling with her.  We were also passed by the rest of the J2′s (Granny’s family) include little J49 (T’ilem I’nges) who was born in 2012.  We were then passed by J16 (Slick) and her son J26 (Mike), and then shortly after the rest of the J16′s, J36 (Alki) and J42 (Echo).  Both passed by us while porpoising which was pretty awesome to see.  Thankfully the whales don’t care about rain so we managed to get some great looks at them!

Naturalist Rachel

M/V Sea Lion, San Juan Safaris

Whales out East

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

Today we left Friday harbor and headed South through San Juan Channel and then East towards Anacortes.  When we got into San Juan Channel we came across a minke whale, which made for a nice surprise! We watched the minke whale and then continued heading South.  We went through cattle pass and stopped at the whale rocks to look at some large stellar sea lions.  We then headed East and found the J16′s.  The J16′s consist of J16 (Slick) and her three offspring J26 (Mike), J36 (Alki) and J42 (Echo).  We enjoyed watching the family hunting salmon and got to see some fun behaviors as well.  We watched Mike and Echo rolling on each other for a bit and saw Alki breach twice!  On the way home we stopped by iceberg point and saw three tufted puffins!  Tufted puffins are the largest species of puffin and area a rare surprise to see in this area.  We had a beautiful sunset this evening and had great lighting for photographs.  It was a great evening and we enjoyed every minute of our time on the water.

Naturalist Rachel

M/V Sea Lion, San Juan Safaris

K Pod at Turn Point!

Saturday, August 9th, 2014

We left Friday Harbor yesterday with reports of resident orcas heading North by Stewart Island.  We decided to meet the whales at Turn point and headed the back way behind Spieden Island.  We met the whales at Turn Point and we were pleasantly surprised to see all of Kpod grouped together in a small area.  Every member of Kpod was there with the exception of K21 (Cappuccino), which includes a total of 18 whales! K21 generally travels with different southern resident families from J and L pod.  We watched the K pod members constantly breathing in synchronization!  It was a really great experience to see a whole pod of the southern resident community in such close quarters.  On our way back to Friday harbor we went to the cactus islands and saw quite a few harbor seals swimming around as well as some great looks at about 4 bald eagles.  Including a bald eagle that took off in flight!  All in all it was an absolutely perfect day out on the water and I don’t think our guests could have had a better trip.

Naturalist Rachel

M/V Sea Lion, San Juan Safaris