Seattle Whale Watching Conservation

San Juan Islands Whale Watching
Blog & Photos

August 26th, 2014

Transient Orcas Fill the Salish Sea Today!

Heading for Shore

Heading for Shore

Amazing!  We leave the dock with reports of four different transient orca whale groups cruising the San Juans!  How spoiled can you get with such choices?

Today we decide to go a little further than “just around the corner” with the idea we will be able to be near three different groups that are close to each other.  The afternoon sun in Rosario Strait near Orcas Island sets up a beautiful sight!

The first group we watch is a group of four whales traveling right down the middle of the strait, until they turn for the shore.  Yes, there is another family group near the shore!

Syncronized Swim!

Syncronized Swim!

Then we turn to find a group heading out into the sunshine and the most amazing thing happens to whale blow breath in the right sunny light….it becomes a rainbow of it’s own!

"Whale-Bow"

"Whale-Bow"

The three groups we are with for most of an hour have all females and juveniles in the mix.  They make a kill before we arrive and now they swim past surfacing harbor porpoise and right past seal haul outs!  These seals are lucky…but do they know it?

Safely Ashore

Safely Ashore

The afternoon is a beauty with warm temperatures and plenty of sunshine.  As we approach Friday Harbor, what should appear but…yes, another group of transient orcas!  They are speeding along the shore and we have another opportunity to see yet more whales.  One more look on an afternoon to remember.

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August 23rd, 2014

Smile…it’s a Sunny Saturday!

Red throated phalaropes...on the way south!

Red throated phalaropes...on the way south!

Saturday in the San Juans…and it’s sunny!  Hard combination to beat…especially if you have the opportunity to be watching wildlife on the water!

We leave the dock without an orca report…but soon news of transient orca whales is reported.  They are up in Canadian waters, so off we go, to the north, across the water, up the waterways, between the islands, and finally, through Active Pass.  It is glassy and calm this morning, and we fly north.  The three transient orcas have just finished making a porpoise kill.  They are now in the business of travelling south, and before long, we are drawn back into Active Pass as they are travelling quickly!~  More fins appear in the back and another group joins us!

J Pod on a sunny Saturday afternoon!

J Pod on a sunny Saturday afternoon!

In the afternoon the resident pods appear to the west, but travelling to the east…which means, by 3:00 p.m. we are with members of J pod along the south end of San Juan Island!  Here’s J-14, Samish as she swims around the gill nets that the fish boats have set out.

Hey There!

Hey There!

This family of J pod slips down the coast of San Juan Island, looking for fish.  There are August fish boats out today and we are always glad to see the whales avoiding these nets….and boats.

Moms and youngsters

Moms and youngsters

The tide is racing this afternoon and on our way back to Friday Harbor we get a chance to see the Steller sea lions going about their business of being “biggest and best” on Whale Rocks!

Me...ME, ME!!!

Me...ME, ME!!!

Incredible sunny Saturday in the San Juans…from the gigantic stellar sea lions to the tiny red throated phalaropes…a truly awesome day from morning to evening!

August 22nd, 2014

Transient Surprise

T-65A-5 in the lead!

T-65A-5 in the lead!

We leave the dock with no whale reports.  It’s a misty morning, and foggy in the straits, so a lot could be missed on early searching trips.  We head north.  We know there are whales out of our range way to the north, but maybe they will head south!?

About half way into our trip, with everyone on board scanning the water, a passenger says….”You, know, I think I saw a fin….way over….there.”  Hum.  We get out the binoculars, and after a minute, sure enough, a fin appears in the distance!  Yippee!  We are off, with a quick reserse of the boat!  We find the T-65A family with little T-65A-5 popping it’s head up!

What a perfect top off to the morning…after watching eagles, harbor seals and harbor seal pups…we are the first boat of the day to find orcas!

Adult member of T-65A's in Boundary Pass

Adult member of T-65A's in Boundary Pass

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In the afternoon our trip takes us back up into the same Canadian waters where left the whales a few hours earlier.  Now they are passing by the entrance to a busy marina and thankfully, they don’t stop there.  There is something else on the agenda for this afternoon….hunting!

Hunting the Pender Island Bluffs

Hunting the Pender Island Bluffs

On this trip we are lucky to have time to cruise between the Cactus Islands and find lots of bald eagle drama!  The harbor seals are plentiful in this area as well.  Wildlife abounds!

August 17th, 2014

Transients, Residents…Take Your Pick!

T-37's on the hunt!

T-37's on the hunt!

There’s nothing quite like transient orca whales in hunting mode, and today we are lucky to watch the T-37’s as they circle an island that is a harbor seal haul out.  Small seal heads bob in the water close to shore, one or two seals are up on the beach, but there’s a lot of action from this orca whale family, swimming back and forth close to shore.

After a complete circle of two islands out in the middle of Haro Strait, they move out to more open water.  How many seals are left behind?

Picking up the speed and heading "out"...

Picking up the speed and heading "out"...

Before we move on a tufted puffin lands right beside the boat!  Beautiful guy…and what a flashy dresser!

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Now on our way back to Friday Harbor we slow down to check out this gathering of birds.  Something is definitely happening below the surface….but what?

Something's Up, Down Under!

Something's Up, Down Under!

We get our answer with the surfacing of a minke whale!  And it surfaces several times, giving everyone a good look.  These usually solitary whales are often a challenge to spot…but not today!

Kissin' Cousin Auklet

Kissin' Cousin Auklet

Another beautiful bird appears while we watch the minke whale, a rhinocerous auklet.  This is a “cousin” of the tufted puffin.  Lovely birds on grey water…I suppose winter is out there somewhere, moving toward us.

In the afternoon we find J pod whales moving up the westside of San Juan Island…they are fishing for salmon…right along with the commercial fish boats…and recreational fishermen as well.  The big boat only pulls in about 10 fish.  Enough for everyone?  We hope so.

Sachi racing north tight to a family member

Sachi racing north tight to a family member

Fishermen and Fisher-whales

Fishermen and Fisher-whales

Another wonderful day on the water…but today, for the first time, something about the temperature, the light…the water…hinted at the summer’s passing….here we go…on to a new season.

August 15th, 2014

Misty Morning, Sunny Afternoon

This morning begins misty and gradually the sky clears and by late afternoon we are back to our sunny summer day.  You just never know what to expect this time of year…and a little bit of everything is a perfect combination!  As with the weather…so goes the wildlife…a little bit of everything.

Hey Mom, Wait Up!

Hey Mom, Wait Up!

We watch as a mom harbor seal swiftly slithers up the rocky shore.  Her pup is right behind her, although not so swift!  Looks like this pup has had plenty to eat so far, so no worries…obviously it keeps up with her.

No eagle chicks today, but how about this adult bald eagle?  It’s all “business” in that pose and look!

Time for lunch....

Time for lunch....

There are more and more harbor seals showing on the rocks.  Some days they seem to be “everywhere!”  Today I count 6 bald eagles on our morning trip, and over 250 harbor seals in various locations.  Then…a steller sea lion appears in the middle of the channel!  Surprise!

Yikes!  What a big mouth you have!

Yikes! What a big mouth you have!

We keep a close ear to the radio and finally we have whales in our range!  For the afternoon trip we are off to Canada again.  Lucky for us the Georgia Strait is flat calm as we race across it to find part of J pod swimming along the far shore!

Here’s L-87 as he passes by us.

L-87 cruises the Georgia Strait

L-87 cruises the Georgia Strait

Lots of water miles covered today…and a little bit of everything in the weather and the wildlife!

August 12th, 2014

Perfect Day Recipe

Transients Rule!

Transients Rule!

The ingredients for this day are:  transient orca whales, bald eagles and fledgling chicks, harbor seal moms and pups, sunshine, calm water and magical San Juan Islands.  The directions?  Mix all together with liberal amounts of everything, add lots of smiles and looks of wonder…serve up for four hours of enjoyment!

We start the day with a transient orca report right over the border in Canada.  What we find upon arrival is a first for me.  The T-65A family is on the hunt right inside Bedwell Harbor next next to Poet’s Cove Marina and Resort…oh, AND Canada Customs dock!  A busy place for sure, but there must be a great marine mammal grocery store here too!

Racing along the Pender Island shore line!

Racing along the Pender Island shore line!

We find two transient orca families here hunting together.  Of course it’s amazing to watch the newest member T-65A5 racing along with the grown ups.  See that little head charging along?  And then below, following along?

Stealth cruising close to shore!

Stealth cruising close to shore!

We have a chance to cruise back toward Friday Harbor slowly, enjoying an immature bald eagle blending into a tree on one of the Cactus Islands.  Amazing…the ability to totally “be one with the tree.”  A guest pointed this one out to me!

Easy to miss…..

Immature Eagle Hide and Seek

Immature Eagle Hide and Seek

The afternoon trip allows us to travel all of about five minutes from the dock when Captain Pete announces:  ”We’re here everyone!”  What???

Something's Up!  Or...Down!!

Something's Up! Or...Down!!

Right across San Juan Channel we find the T-18’s shopping the shore of Shaw Island.  This group of four transients, including two big males, have a lot of interest in small rocky reefs which they circle around throwing up “pressure waves” hoping the seals will slide into the water for “safety”!  Ha!

Amazing to watch this group as they forage and hunt their way up the Shaw shore, right on over to the little islands around Yellow Island and then circle all of that island for at least 30 minutes.  They are in full hunt mode, with quick turns, dives, and lots of coordinated action.

We move on to check out other wildlife and what to our wondering eyes does appear?  As we are watching this young bald eagle chick in the nest…it takes off on a flight…right over to a tree top next door!  It’s the first eagle fledgling flight of the season for me!

Bald Eagle "Chick"

Bald Eagle "Chick"

Always intersting to see what’s in the kelp beds around some of the smaller islands.  Today we a find harbor seal cruising and a  mom and pup….watching…us!

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Who's Watching WHO?

Who's Watching WHO?

"If we turn this way, they won't see us!"

"If we turn this way, they won't see us!"

All ingredients added, mixed and savored.  A perfect recipe for a perfect cruise!

August 8th, 2014

Summer Breeze…and Orcas Please!

L-92 Crewser

L Pod cruises north

What a great way to start a morning!  We have a whale report first thing and leave the harbor with a good idea of where to find whales.  Today we locate parts of all three southern resident orcas off the south end of San Juan Island.  There is a nice breeze, a few wind waves and lots of whales!  They are in traveling mode…so we are too.  Along the westside of the island we go, heading north at a good clip.

There is a lot of current this morning and in the tide rips…lots of tail slapping and breaching!  A littel bouncy for photography, but perfect for watching spectacular whale behavior!

The whales take us on a complete circumnavigation of San Juan Island, although we leave them to the west.  Our afternoon trip takes us back to the west again, but lucky for us, some of the whales that were headed north, turned and came back south….to a perfect place for us to view them!

Or…for them to view us?

Spy Hop!

Spy Hop!

What a beautiful day to be on the water, in the company of whales.  We also have the opportunity to find harbor seal moms and pups and  bald eagle adults and chicks!  It’s that time of year in the San Juans!

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Sometimes I really do wonder…just WHO is watching WHO?

August 2nd, 2014

Humpback Antics

Today we found ourselves among humpback whales in the morning, as well as a huge steller sea lion, harbor seals and eagle chicks.  In the afternoon we watched transient orca whales as they headed out into Georgia Strait.  Both trips were in glorious sunshine and warm, warm weather.  Oh, and flat, flat water!

Dive!

Dive!

This morning’s trip finds us way out in the Strait of Juan de Fuca heading toward humpback whales.  We find a mother and calf, perhaps the same ones we saw last week?  Then my eye catches another blow in front of us!  There are three humpbacks!

Often we see these massive whales in traveling mode, but today they are in “goof off mode!”  The calf treats us to at least a dozen tiny spy hops and the mother and calf get into a “tail flopping” contest!

Baby Spy Hop and Big Spray

Baby Spy Hop and Big Spray

Ready, Set...Action!

Ready, Set...Action!

Sneaky Surfacing

Sneaky Surfacing

First it’s just a back…a long, long, LONG back.  But, then….

Cute "Little" Humpback Smile!

Cute "Little" Humpback Smile!

More Than Just a Dive!

More Than Just a Dive!

Here’s the grand finale…at least while I had my camera out.  Wow!

August 1st, 2014

Residents, Transients…

It’s a beautiful morning out on the water and not long after we are away from the dock we hear that some of the southern resident orca whales are heading south from Canada!  We find them in Boundary Pass…today they are Canadian whales as they are hugging the Canadian shore.

Some J's and K's Racing Down Boundary Pass

Some J's and K's Racing Down Boundary Pass

There are several big males cruising along off to the side of some of the smaller groups of females and youngsters.

L-87 Onyx

L-87 Onyx

Lobo K-26

Lobo K-26

Before we know it we have crossed the “line” and now we’re back in U.S. waters…along with these members of the southern resident orcas.

Great Blue Heron...."Tree Sitting"

Great Blue Heron...."Tree Sitting"

After a good hour with the orcas, we head to some of the small islands on our route.  Looking up…what a surprise!  A great blue heron is perched high in a tree today.  We usually see these magnificent birds balancing on a kelp patch or standing on a rocky shore.

Gull Fly By

Gull Fly By

This gull is on a mission.  There is a group of birds greedily poking their heads into the water up ahead.  The small schooling fish must be hanging out just under the surface!  This is what a gull hopes for!

Adult Bald Eagle

Adult Bald Eagle

Eyes up again….there’s an adult bald eagle watching over all the drama below.

Harbor Seal Mum and Pup

Harbor Seal Mum and Pup

Cruising through some harbor seal territory, we find a new pup with it’s mom, soaking up the late morning sun.

The afternoon trip takes us back up to the north, but this time we find ourselves in the company of a transient orca whale family.  There is lots of action today, but it seems more social than the serious business of hunting.

Transient Orca Ballet Duo

Transient Orca Ballet Duo

Tail Wave Goodbye!

Tail Wave Goodbye!

Time watching orcas “at play” passes too quickly!  Why is that?

July 26th, 2014

Minkes and Humpbacks!

Humpback Duet

Humpback Duet

Saturday is another day of incredible weather in the Salish Sea.  In the morning we head north and find a minke whales up near Boundary Pass and Waldron Island.  This whale is good a guessing games.  Today’s game is called “Where Am I?”  This is one talented whale, as on our first looks, we are surprised each time it surfaces in a very different location!  A circle around a wildlife refuge island turns up over 100 harbor seals, including moms and pups in the water.  The eagles are also out and about.  Then, what do you know…return of the minke whale.  This time there is no guessing game, just lots of great viewing as it surfaces and dives many times around us.

Our afternoon trip turns up two humpback whales, way way off toward Victoria, B.C.  It’s a long run, but out by Middle Bank we are treated to three minke whales all surfacing and diving in the same area.  Arriving four miles off the Victoria shore, the humpback spouts are visible in the air ahead of us!  Today we watch as a mother and calf travel to the west, all the time into the flood tide, which means none of us went very far west.  Can you pick out the calf dorsal fin, right next to mom?

Mama Humpback Travels with Calf

Mama Humpback Travels with Calf

Here’s one more photo of the “wee one.”  Guess there is never really a “wee” humpback whale!

Humpback Calf

Humpback Calf

July 25th, 2014

Surprise! Tufted Puffins….and More!

Tufted Puffin With Groceries

Tufted Puffin With Groceries

Friday morning takes us out to Salmon Bank for our whale and wildlife search.  We find a very elusive minke whale and after a bit, decide to look closer into the shoreline.  What do we find?  Wow!.. a tufted puffin is shopping for groceries right on the south shore of Lopez Island!  And that’s not all…it turns out to be four tufted puffins!  I count myself as lucky to have a sighting or two a summer, but four at one time is very very lucky!

Does it see us in the rear view mirror???

Does it see us in the rear view mirror???

catch-of-the-day

What flashy dressers with the amazing and bright orange beak…feet too…and then…the striking white and special long head feathers.

Right near the puffins, two marbled murrlets pop up in the water.  Since these tiny birds only nest in old growth forests, they must  fly about 70 miles from their nest sites to the waters right here in order to fish for the same food the puffins like.  Small bird…with a mighty flight mission every day.

marbled-murrlet

We head back out toward the bank and find the minke whale circling along the edges of the more shallow area, where the bank drops off to deeper water.  Everyone gets some wonderful looks at this adult minke, busy collecting today’s catch.

On our way back to Friday Harbor we cruise by a wildlife refuge and find gull chicks perched on the rocky top and harbor seal pups with moms on the shore below.  Those soft grey chick feathers and spotted heads are excellent camouflage for a bird born and raised on these grey, spotted rocks!

"Three chicks on a ledge and the little one said...."

"Three chicks on a ledge and the little one said...."

Lending a flipper....

Lending a flipper....

The orca whales remain somewhere out in the open ocean today, both residents and transients.  The weather is fabulous, the water flat and glassy, and it’s a perfect day for being out on the Salish Sea.

July 22nd, 2014

Dinner is Served at Salmon Bank!

Today is Tuesday.  Tuesday is a good day to spend with whales…and it’s seems that’s true!  We have an early morning charter today and what luck, a whale report to begin the morning.  We head off to the north and find Southern Resident orcas traveling down the side of San Juan Island.  They are using a travel pattern we have seen many times before, cruising close to some of the bluff areas, through the big open bays with stops for foraging, and then swiftly across the channels.

Southern Resident Female

Southern Resident Female

It’s good to see the Center for Conservation Biology out with their scat sniffing dog, Tucker, ready to go into action!

The Orca Poop Collection Team!

The Orca Poop Collection Team!

We encounter whales early, have a great whale watch, and have the luxury of finding other wildlife on the trip home.  We even take a senic cruise through Mosquito Pass and Roche Harbor.

In the afternoon the whales draw us again to the south end of the island and Salmon Bank.  There’s a reason it’s called “Salmon Bank” and hope the fishing is very, VERY good for our Southern Resident orcas today!

Lobo Goes on a Deep Dive

Lobo Goes on a Deep Dive

We find both J pod and some of K pod fishing together this afternoon.  They are very spread out in small groups, and eventually, head out for the Salmon Bank bouy together.

First there was “one”….and….”then there were three”!  The magic of now you see it, now you don’t…and, then you DO!  Those whales!  Magic!

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July 19th, 2014

Transients! You’re Back!

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Sometimes you have no idea of the detail in a photograph until it appears on your computer screen.  Look who is popping up in the back of this group!

Today we spend the morning searching and searching for the Resident orca whales that were last seen traveling to the north.  We see abundant wildlife on our trip and search many miles in both U.S. and Canadian water, but the elusive whales remain elusive to all the boats.

Then….suddenly Transient whales are found in Rosario Strait…and not one, but two family groups and an adult male often seen alone!

Racing Along Shore

Racing Along Shore

It doesn’t take too long to arrive on scene and lucky us…the whales are traveling in the direction of Friday Harbor!

So, we all travel along together headed for the same destination…as it turns out.

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Adult Male Transient Orca Whale

The lighting doesn’t help much  in this photo as far as noticing the large nicks out of the trailing edge of this male dorsal fin, but the identifying marks are there.  We have two family groups this afternoon, the T-137’s and the T-124’s and then T-77A.

We have time this afternoon to also admire harbor seals and an eagle.  Often with the word “wildlife” the word “surprise” enters into the conversation.  By the end of the day, our Resident orca whales, so elusive in the morning, are discovered racing right past the place we had gone to find them….and the Transient orca whales made a pass right up San Juan Channel and Friday Harbor!

July 18th, 2014

Whales and Wildlife Abound!

We are lucky to find whales to the north this morning and spend a wonderful hour or more traveling along with them.  We encounter them before we expect to so the first fin sighting is a big surprise!  It is a little bouncy for photography this morning, but later in the day it’s a different story!

Who is Watching Who?

Who is Watching Who?

There is a lot of wildlife out and about this morning!  Harbor seals are always some of our favorite marine mammals to watch…but today…who is watching who?

We are lucky to encounter lots of eagle action out and about some of the low lying rocky areas around the islands.  Here’s an adult bald eagle taking off from a spot where several eagles are challenging each other for the prize!

Taking Home the Prize

Taking Home the Prize

Morning Break Time

Morning Break Time

Where's My Prize?

Where's My Prize?

Heading south this afternoon we find this little harbor seal out for a swim in a kelp bed.

Morning Swim Exercises

Daily Swim Exercises

What a perfect place for hide and seek in the kelp forest underneath the surface!

Got Fish???

Got Fish???

In the afternoon the whales take us way down to the south end of the island where the water is flat and the fishing must be good!  Here is a mother and calf pair rounding up dinner.

The High Speed Chase is ON!

The High Speed Chase is ON!

K-21 Cruises Slowly By

K-21 Cruises Slowly By

Airborne!

Airborne!

Wow!  We’re about to leave the whales…and in the distance an airborne whale!  Beautiful!

Good Afternoon!

Good Afternoon!

In the distance we see whales moving north, as we are moving south toward home.  Seems it’s easy to admire these incredible creatures both from near and far.  We have both opportunities!

July 14th, 2014

Misty Monday Morning Super Pod!!

l-pod-in-the-mist

It’s another one of those….surprise morning trips!  No reports to begin the day…and then…J pod appears heading south from the Fraser River.  We head north to find them, but they are traveling so fast, we have no sign of them as we round out into Haro Strait.  When they turn up the dial on speed…they really move.  But why so fast?

Once on the west side of the island, our light breeze turns to big breeze….the waves increase some…and big splashes land on the foredeck.  Ok!  Soon, the waves disappear, but the fog rolls in as we roll on south.  Slowing down to move through the fog we soon see other whale watch boats floating around us…and then…our first big black fin…and BIG it is…and many there are!  We have found a super pod in the mist!  Members from all three pods are here…including that fast moving J pod, who are now just lazily swimming around with the other southern resident pods.

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Here’s Granny now going north along the shore of San Juan Island with another female right ahead of her.  So was this what all the hurry was about?  They definitely arrived before we did!

tail-slap-hello

Here’s a tail slap along the shore.  Then this group of the K-14’s move up the shoreline too.

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As the morning goes on, the fog disapates and the sun gets brighter and brighter.  Now there are whales on all sides of us.  This is one of my favorite situations….surrounded by whales…in every direction.

grouping-up

ohhh-sooo-many-fins

OH….Soooo Many FINS!

July 12th, 2014

Active Saturday

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Oh J pod, you are headed north again!  Here’s Granny in the lead with Onyx, her steady companion boy.  This morning the whales take us from the northern end of San Juan Island into Haro Strait.  It’s a lovely time watching as they travel through the Salish Sea.

It’s always great to see our newest J pod calf, little T’ileml’nges, (J-49 2012).  See that little head popping up by mom?(J-37, Hyshka) Grandmother (Samish J-14) is in the lead of the threesome traveling together.

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Enroute back to Friday Harbor we have time to discover harbor seals on haul out rocks, two eagles perched near each other on the tip of Spieden Island and a few seals in the water diving right by the boat!

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By afternoon we have to travel way up into Canada to find the same whales.  No passports for them!  Here are two females in Active Pass heading east toward the Georgia Strait.

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Here’s Granny as she rounds the corner heading into Active Pass.  It was a long trip up here, and that makes getting to the whales even more special.  The water is calm, even in the pass, and the lighting is fabulous in the late afternoon.

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FInally, here’s Onyx cruising from one side of the pass, and then right over to the far side, as if he owns the entire waterway.  I can’t say he seemed to pay much attention to the boating traffic…including those big Canadian ferries!

July 11th, 2014

Aloha Friday Whales

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It’s two trips on this beautiful summer Friday.  The morning trip takes us out to the westside of San Juan Island, with a stop along the way to admire a few harbor seals from a good distance.  We want to be sure not to “flush” a new pup into the water and seperate it from mom.  More and more pups are appearing daily and some are now swimming  around cvery close lose to mom, keeping track of her every move!

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It’s J pod for us this morning right off False Bay, back and forth along the shore.  Here’s one of the adult males getting close to shore!

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Wow!  What a fin cutting through blue water!  This morning is full of foraging for the J pod whales we watch, in flat calm water.

We find a chick in the eagle nest on the trip home, and some additional harbor seals.

The afternoon trip takes us back out to the same area, but on the way in we find something very interesting.  There are two steller sea lions hauling out on Whale Rocks!  I don’t expect to see this until late August….but this year, my log will say, “July 11th”!

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Every day has a surprise element and this is the entry for today!

July 9th, 2014

What a Wednesday! Whales….and More Whales!

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Wow!  We see whales and more whales…as we cruise with them east in Boundary Pass toward the Fraser River.  K pod has been back in our waters for a week now and they are here again today, traveling with some of J pod.

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This part of the shore along Saturna Island is magical in the afternoon light.  Part of J pod and all of K pod headed up into Canada today in search of their favorite food, Chinook salmon.  We are in hopes they find many many fish!

On our way back to Friday Harbor we are lucky to find a group of well over 50 harbor porpoise busy in the open water “shopping” in the tidal currents.  These elusive and fast porpoise pay no attention to us today and we have the pleasure of watching them pop up, blow and dive again over and over.

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Wait!  There’s more wildlife, even though we are steadily making our way back to Friday Harbor!  Here are a few harbor seals taking advantage of a bit of rock still above the tide line for their daily haul out. This is pupping season so we keep a good distance….thank goodness for a telephoto lens!

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And just as we are rounding the bend into the harbor…a white head appears up high in a shorline tree.  What a great spotting post for this adult bald eagle!

July 5th, 2014

Fabulous 4th!

Heading for the pass?

Heading for the pass?

We find many J pod whales headed south in Rosario Strait.  We know they went north to “the river” yesterday, and here they are on July 4th…on one of their regular routes.  This day is grey with high clouds and the water matches the sky.

Toddler Tail Slap!

Toddler Tail Slap!

Can’t you just imagine the energy from this young one traveling alongside mom?  We spend the morning traveling alongside too.

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These two beautiful female J pod members are taking their time as they move to the south.

Southern Resident Orca!

Southern Resident Orca!

We are fortunate on both July 4th and 5th to have encounters with the Southern Resident orcas.  On both Friday and Saturday we have two trips and on all four trips we spend time with the Southern Residents.  You never know exactly where you are going on any given trip, as it’s all determinded by the wildlife.  These two days we cover a lot of territory between the westside of San Juan Island the the eastside in Rosario Strait!

Can you find the hidden eagle???

Can you find the hidden eagle???

We always look for all the wildlife we can find and here’s a surprise that only showed up to me, after I looked at the photos closely on my computer!  See that immature bald eagle sitting below the adult bald eagle?!!

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Here’s a “happy harbor seal” for you!  These seals are hauled out to get a little “R & R” away from the threat of Transient orca whales on the hunt!  Don’t you just think that’s a “SMILE”???

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Just one more look…here’s Mike and Slick heading south along the shore of Lopez Island on the afternoon of July 5th.

What great trips on a great weekend…full of whales and wildlife….and wonderful passengers!

July 2nd, 2014

Ohhh, K’s…It’s So Good to See You!

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What exciting news!  K pod is back in town….or…on the water!  I have not seen K pod yet this year as they have only been around one other day so far…I can hardly wait to get away from the dock!

Anytime two or more of the resident pods are together, there is bound to be some high life socializing.  Today we have all of K pod, J pod and some of the L’s too!

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Wow!  Look at that big male fin…and who is that surfacing right next to that big beautiful boy?  They are keeping it a secret.

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Here is J27, Blackberry cruising across Boundary Pass.  He’s not alone!  Can you spot the other fin?

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K21 in the lead, and J34 bringing up the back of this great big “kissin’ cousin” family group of K’s and J’s and…

It was wonderful to see so many whales together, traveling fast and heading north.  They were in tight groups and together again here for the first time in months and months.

Today the Salish Sea feels “rich with whales”….