July 9, 2018

4th of July Orcas!

Captain Gabe and I headed down to the docks on the busiest day of the year in Friday Harbor- 4th of July! Unfortunately, we had not heard of any whales in our area yet this morning. With smiles on our faces and high hopes, we gathered our guests and headed up the San Juan Channel to see what whales we would be able to find this busy day on the water! At least hoping to spot some majestic bald eagles on this United States Independence Day. As we approached Flat Top Island, we stopped to observe a bunch of harbor seals hauled out on the rocks that kept bouncing up and down to reposition themselves. Some heads in the water were also spotted with plenty of splashing and even a little calf breast feeding. Still with no whale reports from any other boats in our area, we kept heading north towards Saturna Island where many transient orca have been spotted lately. Right before crossing Boundary Pass, Captain Gabe did a quick 360° out of nowhere which indicated that he was switching routes for a reason. He had received a report of Transient Orcas found closer to us- which meant we would have more time to spend with them, so we headed that way! This group of Transient killer whales was traveling South down Rosario Strait and when we arrived we observed them go up the coast of Blakely Island and then cross over to Cypress Island. They were taking long dives and moving quite fast, changing directions randomly then getting back on course. It was like they could not decide where they wanted to go next, such an indecisive group! Based on their dorsal fins, this group was all females but there could be a calf whose gender is still unknown. After a while of following parallel to them, we decided to peel off and see what other animals we could find. We rounded the Southern tip of Lopez Island to look for humpbacks with no luck. But as we came through Cattle Pass and circled Whale Rocks, we spotted 2 bald eagles from very close up whom seemed to not be bothered by our unintended close proximity. There was an adult and a juvenile together; the juvenile looked massive compared to its parent. After a couple of minutes, they decided to show us their flight and gracefully took off. What a perfect ending to an awesome 4TH of July trip!

Mariana, Naturalist, San Juan Safaris