Posts Tagged ‘whale watching near seattle’

Transients North of the Border!

Sunday, July 20th, 2014

Captain Jim and I got to the Kittiwake this morning with zero reports of whales. We were planning out an awesome wildlife tour where we would be looking for the orcas, other whales, and some of the other wildlife in the area, when we got a call that there were transient orcas north of Sucia Island and Alden Bank in Canadian waters! I was super stoked that the transients were back in, as I had not seen them in a while. We had beautiful smooth water as we traveled north from Friday Harbor, and the scenery was just as gorgeous. We got to see some great feeding behavior, as the transients munched down on what looked to be a harbor seal. Transients eat solely marine mammals, with harbor seals making up right around 60% of their diet. We also got to see the orcas travelling a bit! We enjoyed the scenery on the way back and I personally really enjoyed getting to know our guests on board today!

Naturalist Sarah, M/V Kittiwake, San Juan Safaris

Happy Whales!

Monday, July 7th, 2014

Howdy from a very sunny and warm Friday Harbor!

This afternoon we had an awesome trip out on the Salish Sea. We left the harbor and immediately had a bald eagle fly over our boat, and a little while later we had an eagle fishing right off the bow! Eagles cannot retract their talons once they have sunk them into a fish, so they have to be careful about the size of fish that they attempt to catch. A fish that is too large might pull the eagle under the water, so they are very selective! After going south around Cattle Point we caught up with some orcas on Salmon Bank. We spent some time with that group and then left them to catch up with another reported group on the west side of San Juan Island. We arrived on scene and Naturalist Heather and I were very excited to see two of our very favorite mother/calf pairs: Deadhead (K27) & Ripple (K44), and Spock (K20) & Comet (K38). We had some very nice looks at the whales and even had a chance to drop our hydrophone in the water to hear the whales vocalizing all around us! Each pod in the Southern Resident community has a different vocalization pattern, so you can identify different pods based upon the unique sounds that they make!

It doesn’t get better than beautiful weather and happy whales!

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


Whale Search!

Thursday, July 3rd, 2014

Today we arrived at the M/V Sea Lion with a report of Resident orcas traveling quickly to the southwest. Naturalist Aimee, Captain Pete and I consulted and decided that we would try to catch up with them! Orcas can swim over 100 miles in a single day and can reach speeds in excess of 35 miles per hour. We had a great group on board today who were very excited to be out on the water. We all were hoping that the orcas stayed close enough so that we could catch up with them!

On the way out to the reported orcas we took a slight detour to see a humpback whale! Humpbacks were once plentiful in this area, but were extirpated when the area was heavily whaled. It has only been within the last two decades that humpbacks have begun returning. We reached the orcas just in time to witness the most breaches I have seen on a trip yet this season. The whales definitely put on a show for the boat! Guests were certainly left extremely impressed with the whales’ acrobatics. On the way back to Friday Harbor we got to see some harbor seals and porpoises. Overall it was another amazing day on the Salish Sea!

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

L-pod basking in the sunshine…

Friday, August 31st, 2012

We had a fabulous trip to the south side of San Juan Island today.  Sunny skies and calm waters in the Strait of Juan de Fuca made for incredible whale watching!  After seeing several harbor seals cruising through Cattle Pass, we encountered the Steller sea lions on Whale Rocks.  At least ten were lounging in the sun.  As we headed into the strait, we saw several members of the resident L-pod actively feeding offshore of South Beach (48°26N, 123°00W).  First we saw members of the L12 matriline, including L41 “Mega”.  He was switching directions and slowly coming to the surface.  At one point he rolled on his back and slapped the water with his pectoral fins and tail.  It looked like he was doing the backstroke!  We also saw L94 “Calypso” with her calf L113 “Molly”.  “Molly” was very active, splashing, rolling, tail-slapping.  L77 “Matia” was also spotted with her calf L119 born earlier in 2012.  After observing these special mammals, we headed back to Friday Harbor.  So thankful for another day to see these orcas in the wild.

SJS Naturalist Jenny

What a day on the water!!

Monday, August 27th, 2012

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)


Enter to Win – Win by Having Tons of Fun Seattle to San Juan

Friday, August 24th, 2012

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 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

Monday, August 06, 2012

Monday, August 6th, 2012

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


We Whale Watch in the evening too!

Friday, July 20th, 2012

On last night’s sunset cruise we caught up with two groups of about 20+ Southern Resident Killer Whales headed south in Rosario Strait between Cypress and Blakely Island (48°34.46N, 123°46.05W). They hadn’t gone far since the greeting ceremony earlier that day, but you could tell the excitement had worn on them. They appeared to be resting, moving at a steady pace in unison, only coming up for 3-5 breaths before taking long dives.

From what we had identified, it was members of L-pod including Onyx (L87), Gaia (L78), and Crewser (L92). We watched them rest for a while, but they must have sensed our curiosity because eventually they spruced up, spyhopping, swimming on their sides, waving their pectoral fins, and lobtailling.

The setting couldn’t have been more perfect to embrace these animals. With Mt. Baker glowing in the background, the sun setting, and only 2 other boats around, it really felt like it was just us and them.

Naturalist Tara, San Juan Safaris