August 6, 2019

Big Male Orca Whale Near Stuart!

 

Jordan | M/V Sea Lion | 08/06/19 | 1:30pm

Today started as a gorgeous sunny day without a cloud in the sky, and it just got better. Captain Sarah, Naturalist Laura and I headed out of Friday Harbor and headed north through the San Juan Channel up towards reports of wildlife! But, on the way, we kept finding other random wildlife!

We stopped as we saw a swarm of birds, also known as a bait ball, swirling over a sea lion! It was really cool to briefly see this Steller sea lion pop its head above the water and continue back under to chase some fish.

We then stopped by Flattop Island where we found a bunch of harbor seals! These chunky animals basked in the sun as they enjoyed the warmth and tried to avoid the cold waters for as long as possible. Eventually, they’ll head into the watery world to find food!

We also saw a huge bald eagle fly towards our boat! It was beautiful to see how graceful and effortlessly he glided with the wind. Still hard to imagine a three-foot-tall, child sized bird defying gravity!

Then, we boated over towards Stuart Island and found an orca whale! So cool! This huge male travelled alongside the island, with his 10-foot blow illuminated in the sunlight. We followed him to the point of the island and as he rounded the corner, he suddenly started slapping his giant dorsal fin against the water! Repeatedly! I’ve never seen this behavior before! It was really amazing to see this massive whale tossing his body around the water.

Eventually, he calmed down and continued travelling towards an unknown destination. Potentially, he was searching for more harbor seal or porpoise prey. But he could also have been swimming to rejoin the rest of is family somewhere else in the Salish Sea. Orcas can communicate up to 10 miles apart! So, he could be communicating with them somewhere far off in the distance!

Finally, we headed back towards the harbor! Along the way, we watched some porpoises swim by and admired the mountainous landscape.

What a great day!