August 19, 2009

Ahh August!

Boy, for being from Massachusetts, I sure have become acclimated to the Pacific northwest's 75 degree (F) weather! It hits a few degrees above 75 and I'm sweating. This is much to the humor of my guests, many of whom are coming from Texas, Florida (had some folks for Atlanta, Georgia, today), and other hot summer spots, who board the boats with jackets in tow. Today was like so many other summer days here in the islands this summer, hot and sunny! Due to what we like to call the "rainshadow effect" the islands are a little banana belt of sunshine almost all summer long - and this summer feels like it has been even sunnier than most.

Captain Denny and I boarded an eager boatload of guests aboard the MV Kittiwake. Having heard there were whales south and north, we decided to head north to what sounded like a larger group of whales. We reached members of K Pod passing between Kellett Bluff on Henry Island and Turn Point on Stuart Island. The whales were rolling around, travelling quickly at times, and breaching here and there. We shut off the engines many times throughout the trip and let the animals pass along the shoreline, watching them and listening to the sounds of their blows as the passed behind our stern. Guests snapped some fantastic photographs of the whales and watched with respect and admiration as the orcas travelled in small spread out groups toward Boundary Pass.

After saying farewell to the orcas, we cruised along Stuart Island's north side, passing through John's pass. We watched harbor seals swim and bob and juvenile bald eagles fly and land off of low-lying rocks west of the Cactus Islands. As we cruised past the Cactus Islands we saw two adult and one sub-adult bald eagles eating what appeared to be some sort of fish and looked at harbor seals hauled out on rocks half submerged in water. On the east side of Speiden we viewed the entire variety of exotic species that now call Speiden home and watched two river otters crawl down the rock face and dive into the water.

What a wonderful day out on the islands. I was glad to escape the heat in town - and couldn't think of a better way to do it!

Over and out,
Ashley, Naturalist

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