Posts Tagged ‘whale watching tour’

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

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


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 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


Hooray Humpbacks!

Thursday, August 9th, 2012

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

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

Saturday July 31, 2012 is Crazy Hat Day with San Juan Safaris Whale Watching!

Saturday, July 7th, 2012
1:30 and 5:30 WEAR YOUR CRAZY HAT

Prize: $38 plush 3 foot long Orca Whale

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 

The Minke Mash

Monday, May 14th, 2012

Minke whales are one of the most underrated cetacean species. No one ever says “let’s go whale watching for minke’s.” But if you’ve had the opportunity to actually see a minke whale, you’d think they were not only beautiful animals, but pretty darn cool as well.

Well today we had that opportunity! We left Friday Harbor headed south towards Hine Bank. It was absolutely beautiful! Warm, sunny, and the ocean surface was as smooth as glass. Along the way we were able to see a large group of harbor seals hauled out on a rocky island and a few harbor porpoises. As we reached Hine Bank, coordinates 48 degrees 20.80 minutes N, 123 degrees 04.089 minutes W, we slowed to almost a stop. Minke whales are difficult to spot because they have a low blow, a small dorsal fin, and if there are waves they tend to block our view. But, we definitely had no trouble today as a minke surfaced right ahead of our boat! And because the water was so flat we saw more of the body than I’d ever seen before.

We spent some time watching that lone minke surface and dive methodically around our boat before heading back towards Salmon Bank. Again, it didn’t take very long before we spotted two more minke whales! (Coordinates 48 degrees 24.53 minutes N, 122 degrees 59.06 minutes W). Their blows were audible and their smooth, rounded backs sliced through the glassy water again and again, keeping us mesmerized.

Heading back to San Juan Island gave us more wildlife viewing opportunities. Before docking we saw a lone Steller sea lion hauled out on whale rocks, and finally a beautiful bald eagle perched on top of Long Island that took flight just as we were pulling away. It was a truly amazing day!

Kristen, Naturalist, San Juan Safaris