August 2, 2010

Be gone fog!

Finally it looks like the fog may be clearing. We still had a foggy morning but it quickly cleared out and turned into a beautiful day. This afternoon was a true safari. We started off by observing some harbor seals basking in the sun...it's rough being a harbor seal! Then we moved over to whale rocks to observe a couple of stellar sea lions.  These amazing creatures can weigh between 1500-3000 lbs depending upon the sex of the animal. Sea lions are capable of "walking" on land using their front flippers unlike the harbor seals that scoot around on their bellies. Stellar Sea Lions are endangered and the majority of them are in Alaska on their breeding grounds currently.

Continuing along we made our way over to the Orcas on the west side of San Juan. Just as we made it on scene one of the J pod calves began breaching.  Even a calf is about 6-8 ft long when born and around 400lbs! We enjoyed observing the Orcas going about their normal routine. As we waved goodbye to Orcas to return home we stopped once again since there were reports of a minke whale close by. Minke whales tend to be tough to spot and they can hold their breath for a long time so I'm not always hopeful of a good show from a Minke but this one did not disappoint! Minke whales have baleen instead of teeth like orcas do so they filter feed and today we got to see a glimpse or two of this feeding action. After several minutes of not seeing the minke whale we begin to wonder if he or she had moved on and then suddenly there it was very close to our boat! It was a great sighting and everyone was excited about all the different species of marine life we had the opportunity to observe today. Last but not least just minutes before pulling into the harbor we stopped to observe a bald eagle. Throw in the flat calm water we had today and you just couldn't ask for much more!

-Casey