May 2, 2011

It started off a rainy Monday and turned into a great wildlife watching day.  We headed north out of the Harbor and up toward Speiden Island.  It was raining steadily but there were a dozen Steller Seal Lions hauled out at the point and more in the water.  Some of them were only half way out of the water, reclining against the rock, like a bunch of guys relaxing in a hot tub.  There was a bald eagle sitting on the nearest hill who had a mostly white head, but when he stretched out his wings showed us his mottled, juvenile coloration underneath.

We passed by a few soggy Mouflon Sheep and out into Haro Straight.  The calm water and low light made it perfect for spotting Harbor Porpoise.  We shut down to try and get a  look at the shy cetaceans and realized that they were all around us for at least a half mile in every direction.  After a few minutes we continued on and eventually encountered a handful of Dall's Porpoise.  They darted in toward the bow and spent the next few minutes bow riding, drafting, and surfing in our wake.

We cruised around Stewart Island and back around to Speiden.  The sea lions were all in the water rafted up like a bunch of rocks floating at the surface.  As we pulled away we saw splashes and watched as two sea lions chased something, occasionally porpoising out of the water.

With our fingers crossed we turned back toward the harbor.  Eyes and binoculars were glued to the water in hopes of a last minute Orca sighting.  Alas, there were none.  However, it was a great day for other wildlife.

 

Laura

Naturalist, San Juan Safaris