August 2, 2018
Bald Eagle Party|7/21/18| 5:30 pm
Leaving the harbor with a full boat Captain Mike, Alexandria and myself were excited to get out on the water and see what orcas were hanging around the San Juan Channel! It’s really a treat and a weight off our shoulders when the whales are right outside the harbor since sometimes we must travel two hours to even catch up to them! With high spirits, we headed North up the channel hugging the east side of San Juan island. About two miles up the coast, we saw some faint spouts coming up right next to the rocky shore. We pulled away from the coast and into the middle of the channel to give these animals some room and observe their behavior. As we watched them come up for air a couple times, we were able to identify them as the T99s orca pod. These transient orcas had been escorting some new California transients in our area earlier that day and had now split up. This has been such an interesting thing to watch this summer as some California transients have come in our waters from very far. I️ wonder how they are hearing about our harbor seal population..It truly is a transient orca buffet out here but how fast is the word getting around?! Sound does travel faster in water I️ guess ;)
We stayed with the T99s for a bit until they decided to silently cross our vow and quickly appear back up in the middle of the channel. Captain Mike pulled away and went to see what other animals we could find around the nearby islands.
As we rounded the western side of Flat Top island, we spotted many harbor seals hauled out and some being playful in the water. We then circumnavigated the island with the hopes of finding an eagle or two- to our surprise we found about 10! Even a few juveniles in there practicing their flights in their parents presence. This was so cool, so many eagles at once, and we couldn’t stop spotting them!
Captain Mike then headed to towards Waldron Island to see what we could find. On the way, coming up to a seal haul out, we spotted about 4 more eagles soaring above the rocks and feeding on what looked to be a very picked apart harbor seal pup carcass!! These guys were indulging on this poor seal as the other seals watched and didn’t seem to be bothered. Circle of life at its finest!! Ironically while this was happening, we spotted the transient orcas headed towards our boat again. These guys stayed nearby for the remainder of our trip, foraging around our boat and surfacing pretty close by from time to time letting us hear their soothing exhalations.
The San Juan Islands never cease to amaze me, what a fantastic day on the water.
Mariana, Naturalist, San Juan Safaris