Posts Tagged ‘whale watching tour’

J Pod Time in the Haro Strait

Sunday, April 19th, 2015

The day was sunny, the guests were excited, and we had whales to see! Captain Mike and myself whisked our guests off for a day on the water that felt more June than April. With reports of J Pod on the Westside, we zipped North to catch up with them.

Knowing we had time to see these Residents Killer Whales, we worked our way there, stopping for a few Harbor Seals, Bald Eagles, and Steller Sea Lions around Spieden Island. As the largest privately owned island in the San Juans with no permanent residents, there’s always a lot of wildlife on land and around its shores. After some nice looks, we left a group of sleeping Harbor Seals at Sentinel Rock, set off to see J Pod.

What followed was an early season show to match them all. We followed many members of J Pod, seeing big males like J27, J34, and L84, as well as the newest member of the group, J51 following mother J19 along Kellet Bluff. The rest of the afternoon was spent at a relaxed pace, letting the many whales in the Haro Strait move around us. We were lucky witnesses to spy hops, a few full breaches, and some exciting hunting behaviors. It seemed like everywhere you looked there were dorsal fins slicing through the calm water.

After almost two hours with the Js we needed to head back, but everyone was beaming from the experience. We stopped a couple times around Spieden for better looks at Steller Sea Lions, but I could tell everyone was still in a daze from our lucky encounter that afternoon. It was all smiles all the way home.

Naturalist Brendan

M/V Sea Lion, San Juan Safaris

A J Pod Encounter on the West Side

Saturday, April 11th, 2015

Captain Mike, Naturalist Emily, and myself took our guests out on the M/V Sea Lion for what turned turned out to be a stellar trip today. We had reports of members of J Pod in the Haro Strait, so we sped up and around the North end of San Juan Island there right from the Harbor. Not long after entering the open strait we had our first sighting!

L87, who travels with J2, was the first animal we saw. He popped up a few times in the Haro and we followed him South, his tall dorsal fin dipping through the waves with Spieden Island in the background. Soon after following him down the strait, we  ran into a larger group of J Pod and were witness to a bevy of breaches, spy hops, and cavorting youngsters. This was a real treat so early in the season. While it was hard to tell in all the activity, it looked as if the newest youngster of J Pod, J51 was cavorting in the waves. Calves are certainly noticeable by size, but they really stand out because of their coloration, an off orange that is a result of a less developed layer of insulating blubber, apparent on this young one.

After continuing to enjoy the whales as they headed South with the ebb, we took a calm tour through Mosquito Pass between Henry and San Juan Island. Along the way we enjoyed a quick view of a California Sea Lion and some nice close looks at Long-tailed and Harlequin Ducks. Rounding off an already excellent day, we cruised the shoreline of Spieden Island for some looks at the introduced sheep and deer on land, Bald Eagles in the air, and basking Steller Sea Lions in the water. We couldn’t have asked for a better early season tour with Southern Residents and wildlife galore!

Naturalist Brendan

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

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