Posts Tagged ‘San Juan Safaris’
The weather was perfect: high around 70 degrees, clear blue sky, and very light breeze. The only thing that could make it better would be a day with the Orcas. Did you order up Orcas?
Yes, a large order, please!
Coming right up.
We ran north – through beautifully calm water, enjoying the spectacular scenery. Mount Baker was a clear and crisp as I’ve ever seen it. Along the way, we saw harbor porpoise, common murre, pigeon guillemot, and harbor seals swimming about.
As we got nearer to our destination, members of J & K Pods showed themselves. Plenty of porpoising, a breach, a spy hop, another breach – lots of activity. We identified K-25 (Scoter), K-27 (Deadhead), J-27 (Blackberry), and a host of other gorgeous Orcas. The boat rang out with ohhhhs and aahhhhhs, as the animals were all around us!
We had to “go the extra mile” today, because that’s where the action was. It’s what we do. 48 47.91N, 122 46.7436W. Lots of happy guests aboard!
Happy Whale Watching to You!
Captain Jim (Captain, Naturalist, all ’round fun guy)
What an incredible sight last night south of Victoria. Tangerine orange sunset and TWO humpbacks feeding in synchronization…they could have won a gold medal for synchronized swimming! These massive baleen whales were lunging for schooling fish and plankton. We could see their throat pleats stretch as they swallowed large quantities of food. Small fish were leaping out of the water in attempts to escape. Guests had incredible photos of flukes and flippers. It was a 50 mile round-trip and worth the travel time! Who says you have to go all the way to Maui to see the humpbacks!
SJS Naturalist Jenny
Exciting day on the water! Leaving the harbor under rainy skies, we traveled north around San Juan Island. Happily, the skies dried and the sun soon came out just as we caught up with members of the Southern Resident Killer Whales in Haro Strait. Traveling along the west side of Stuart Island and milling in the Turn Point area (first sighted at 48°40.67N 123°14.92W) were: Onyx (L87), along with Slick (J-16) and her calf, Echo (J-42), Mike (J-26) and Alki (J-36). Our next sighting include Granny (J-2) along with Tsuchi (J-31), and Mako (J-39). The orcas were active and didn’t seem to be in any hurry to leave the area. Plenty of shots of tails waving, pectoral fin slaps and the occasional spy hop. On the way back, we heard a rumor that there might be a new calf in J Pod?
Shelly and Tara, Naturalists for San Juan Safaris
The bright and glorious sun was out for our wildlife tour this afternoon. In addition to the warm sunshine, we enjoyed sights of Mt. Baker, seen through clouds off in the distance, and calm waters. Right away we spotted harbor seals and two bald eagles on the northeast side of San Juan Island. As we approached Whale Rock, three Northern Sea Lions (also known as Stellar Sea Lions) were observed. Two females were hauled out on the rock and another was swimming around the kelp bed. It is unique to see them this time of year, when so many are up north in Canada and Alaska. We travelled west near Eagle Point (48°26.7577N, 123°00.5170W) when a large dorsal fin appeared belonging to J27 “Blackberry”. Two other males were nearby, J26 “Mike” and J34 “Doublestuff”. These members of J-pod were actively hunting, circling through the water. We saw slapping of pectoral fins and flukes and could hear the splashes. J35 “Tahlequah” and her male calf J47 “Notch” were also foraging for food. It was incredible to see the orcas surface in synchronization and hear their exhalations. As we returned to Friday Harbor, we got another good view of the massive Northern Sea Lions. They looked quite comfortable lounging on the rocks. Many great photos and memories from today!
SJS Naturalist Jenny
With reports of Resident Orcas on the west side of San Juan Island and Transient Orcas north of Stuart Island, it was a tough call on which direction to take. Fortunately, heading north to search for Transients turned out to be a great choice! At Blundand Island (Gulf Islands, BC) we caught up to about 8 or more tightly grouped whales (48°43’86N 123°10’9W), including T102, that seemed to be slowly moving along the island until something kicked a pair into action and they repeatedly porpoised along the island, took a long dive, then surfaced along with the rest of the group.
Harbor porpoises were everywhere today – milling in San Juan Channel and in Boundary Pass.
We also watched Bald Eagles perched, as they kept an eye on their territory at Cactus Islands, along with one spotted on the flag pole at the end of Stuart Island, and another 2 at Flat Top Island. One was even perched on top of the National Wildlife Refuge sign. We also saw two Great Blue Herons at John’s Island.
Another great day on the water; sunny skies, glass-like seas, and excellent wildlife viewing!
Naturalists Tara, Kristen, and Shelly; San Juan Safaris
What a day! We didn’t have to travel far, getting to enjoy the company of many members of J-Pod, with the star being “Big” Mike, J-26. We were on the northwest side of San Juan Island at 48° 36.9345 / 123° 11. 8222. Shachi, J-19 was leading a group of other females north. After nearly an hour with the active Orcas, we turned north for a tour along Spieden Island, with harbor seals, Mouflon sheep and sika deer galore! We punctuated the hurrahs on that stretch with 3 bald eagle fly overs, right on schedule! On the way back to Friday Harbor, we saw an immature bald eagle and a group of very active harbor porpoise. One of our guests was from Seattle and told us that in his years here, he had never seen an Orca… “What a very special treat!” Our pleasure to be a part of it.
The day started with sunny blue skies and later gave us just enough clouds for dramatic photos… the cameras onboard were constantly clicking! Easy to see why.
Jim, Naturalist, Captain, all around fun guy.
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
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