Posts Tagged ‘whale watching near seattle’

Whale Report July 2, 2012

Monday, July 2nd, 2012

Southern Resident Killer Whales today!

Caught up with about 7 slowly foraging members of J-Pod, including Granny (J-2), Blackberry (J-27) along with Onyx (L-87) on the west side of San Juan Island at 48.27.388N 123.03.597W. We stayed with them until peeling away at the light house at Lime Kiln to complete a circumnavigation of San Juan Island.  Caught a quick sighting of 2 Dall’s Porpoises close to Kelp Reef too.

On the way out, San Juan Channel was busy with Harbor Porpoises (at least 10) and a large group of Harbor Seals (about 15) heads up and bobbing in the tide rip before Goose Island. Counted about 12 Canada Geese pecking on the grassy top of the rock offshore from Cape San Juan, while a lone Bald Eagle kept sentry on top of a snaggy fir on shore.

Our return trip took us along  Speiden Island where a large flock of Mouflon Sheep grazed with several rams keeping watch on the perimeter. Also, sighted one albino Fallow Deer tucked in the exposed roots of a tree just above the water and 4 Sika Deer outlined on the ridge line. On our last glance back at Spieden Is., a nice showing of 3 Bald Eagles that overhead from Sentinel Island towards us.

Naturalists Shelly, Tara and Jenny; San Juan Safaris




Photo from Friday, April 27, 2012 from Tom Caporuscio

Monday, May 28th, 2012
Whale Watching Naturalists Colleen (left) and Amy (right)

Sent in by Thomas Caporuscio from Friday, April 27, 2012


See the blog from April 27, 2012 

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

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

Sunny skies, calm seas

Saturday, April 14th, 2012

Excited by an early morning report that a large number of Orcas had been sighted off Cattle Point on San Juan Island, we could not wait to get out on the water at noon. Heading north in San Juan Channel, our first stop was at Yellow Island to check out a healthy number of Harbor Seals hauled out on the rocks.  Next stop, Green Point at Speiden Island, where more than a few mammoth Stellar Sea Lions dove and rolled on all sides of the boat. Several Harbor Porpoises surfaced long enough for a quick look as we passed Speiden, en route to Stuart Island. Bald Eagles were sighted, either soaring overhead, or posed in treetops. Easy cruising under clear skies and calm seas, but no whales.

After cruising around Stuart Island, we headed over to Canadian waters to check out the Cormorant rookery on Mandarte Island. Saw both Brandt’s and Pelagic Cormorants sitting on nests and a lone sentry Canada Goose on top of the rock. Hearing reports of Dalls Porpoises, we headed back into Haro Strait to catch a quick glimpse of one between Gooch Island and Turn Point, Stuart Island.  Cruising along the west side of Spieden Island gave us a good look at the monumental number of newborn baby Mouflon Sheep scattered all over the steep, grassy sides.  Another last look at the Stellar Sea Lions surfing in the currents off Green Point, then we turned for home. Although the whales eluded us today, it was a priceless day in the San Juan Archipelago — warm, sunny, spring-weather, a calm sea, and a plethora of Bald Eagles, Pinnipeds, Porpoises, and Pelagic birds.

Naturalists Shelly and Kathy

Saturday & Sunday Whale Watching from San Juan Island

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

We will be going out on Saturday the 14th and Sunday the 15 again at 12 noon. Saturday is already almost full and Sunday still has space. Call now 800 450 6858 or use our online secure reservation system.

Resident Orcas today!

Sunday, April 8th, 2012

     Yesterday Transients Orcas, today Residents Orcas! Traveling all the way to Mouat Point off North Pender Island, Canada, we caught up with members of J and K pod. Although the Orcas kept us on the move, we paused long enough to see foraging, plenty of tail-slapping, a slow-motion spy-hop by Sekiu (K-22), and an excellent full-body breach! It was also a treat to clearly hear vocalizations on our hydrophone.

     A stop at Green Point on Speiden Island on the way home gave us a good look at a noisy group of Stellar Sea Lions all perched upright at the water’s edge. We began and ended the trip with sightings of adult Bald Eagles just inside the marina.

     Another spectacular day on the water. Despite starting off with a thrilling ocean-spray ride north (all slickers were in use), the skies cleared, the whales graced us with their presence, and we celebrated another spectacular day on the water on glassy seas and under sunny skies.


Humpback Whale at Halibut Island, Canada for our last tour

Saturday, October 15th, 2011

No orca whale reports today, BUT as we pulled out of Friday Harbor the Captain received word of a humpback whale by Halibut Island, Canada. It took us nearly an hour to get to the location but there it was – a beautiful humpback whale. It looked as though it was feeding the entire time we were with it – almost ½ an hour. When it dove down, one could see many of the ‘knuckles’ on it’s back.  Two of the many dives it waved it tail gently before disappearing into the water. Speaking of water, the depth of the water in that location was about 150 feet deep.

This was the last tour of the season.



We will reopen for whale & wildlife  tours April 14, 2012. See you next year!

Naturalist, Colleen Johansen


An “A” Whale and Wildlife Charter Tour

Thursday, October 13th, 2011

  Today with beautiful weather the two Kenmore Air sea planes touched down at the dock and we were there waiting to take the guests for a wildlife tour.  The group included people from Denmark, Sweden and Japan.

We went down the east side of San Juan Island stopping a few times to view birds and harbor seals. We had a good look at a mature bald eagle, solo, at the top of a tree. As we neared the southern-most tip of the island, we stopped (turned off the engine) and sat to watch some big stellar sea lions.  10-15 sea lions sunning on a rock outcropping with 100’s of pelagic cormorants. The rocks were literally covered with animals.

We started up again heading north. There were a number of commercial vessels out fishing today with nets out. The guests and I saw several orca whales go right up to one of these boats. I wondered if they were going to try to get fish out of the net, but then they just moved along. There were also many markers bobbing about as crabbing season has RE-opened.

Further north up the west side we saw a male orca solo.  We were stopped and watched him for a bit.
We started up going slowly north were we encountered a few more orca whales. I remember a group of 3, either all females or females with a young male. The whales were not coming out of the water – just enough to breath. There were many small groups of whales and seemed to be spread out over a large area.

With the engines off and the hydrophone down (50’) we were treated to the whale calls/song/clicks. I can never grow tired of this.  There was a good deal of vocalization today too!

We moved a bit more north were different whales were seemingly on a northern journey. Again, with engines off, we sat just staring to the coast of San Juan Island where whales were popping up and sliding back down. We even saw 2 tail slaps that looked like a juvenile.

We came home stopping near Speiden as one of the guests spotted 4 Harlequin Ducks swimming by. The captain turned the boat around so that Peter, the birder, with a 400 mm lens, could get a really good photo. He was thrilled and so was I. (hope he sends us the photo).

How would I grade this trip? The fog from the morning lifted and the planes came on time, it did not rain, it was not cold, we saw Stella Sea Lion, Cormorants, Harbor Seals, Bald Eagle, Orca Whales, Harlequin Ducks, Heermann’s Gull, Loons, Common Murres, Pigeon Guilemots and more. It was an “A” Trip.

Naturalist, Colleen Johansen

Tail End of the Season

Saturday, October 8th, 2011

Headed south down the east side of San Juan Island.A single mature bald eagle was spotted up in a tree. We paused to view it, then off it went. We went a bit further south, then stopped a rock outcrop with TONS of Stellars Sea Lions. Lounging, posturing, snoozing, swimming. They where piled up with scads of  cormorants and a variety of gulls. You could smell that these animals were all fish eaters. (Hey, watch it, I kinda like that fragrance!) The boat sat with the engine off and twirled in the current. Pretty cool right at that spot in the water.

50/50 chance of seeing whales is what I gave it. BUT . . . It was a WHALE day for sure.  We were on the west side of San Juan Island south of Lime Kiln, north of False Bay, about a mile from shore. A single male resident orca surfaced. Solo. We could not see any other whales for quite some time.  The boat moved further north, then we began to see what looked like two females.  While sitting with the engine off, after about 20 mintues, a female off our bow start slapping her pectoral fin. Over and over.she slapped.  Almost as if waving to us.  She kept this up for several minutes. I am not sure just how many orcas there were. They were all very s p r e a d out. None were breaching. None were surfacing. It seemed like heavy duty prey finding.

There was a report of Humpback whales 3 miles from us -  closer to Canada. Off we went.  There were a few other boats already on scene. Two humpbacks were swimming side by side in sync with each others movements. Another whale was solo. I kept expecting a fluke. Sure enough, when I was not looking, Shelly saw the tail. We stayed with these whales about 20 minutes. Then we turned and started homeward – southish. The orcas were still in the same area. Stilled looked like fishing and eating mode to me.

What a great “Tail End of the Season tour this was!

Naturalist, Colleen Johansen