June 10, 2020

Bigg's Killer Whales Cruise Around the San Juan Islands!

Laura / M/V Sea Lion / 6/10/2020 / 12:00pm

    Today I am thrilled to report a most fulfilling whale watch after a long sabbatical due to recent COVID regulations.  Captain Pete and I dusted off our binos and set off into the Salish Sea on M/V Sea Lion!  She seemed just as happy to be back out on the water as well and cruised through the seas like a well-oiled machine.  Our first tour is officially scheduled for this upcoming weekend, Saturday June 13th as well as Sunday!

    After leaving Friday Harbor Pete and I headed over towards Thatcher Pass, an area that had sightings reports of some Bigg's killer whales!  It was so scenic to maneuver around the San Juan Islands, I missed their grandness and peaceful beauty.  We arrived on scene to find the T65As foraging and moving northwest towards Deer Harbor.  We followed this family of 5 as they traveled side-by side, except for the subadult male who decided a 200 yard distance from his family seemed appropriate for the day.  I really appreciate families with calves, and this family seems to be raising quite a stealthy little creature!  He/she hugged alongside mom but did not once lose pace with the group as they traveled up through the pass.  The large male went right by the ferry departing from Shaw and they had to stop and wait for the group to pass by.  An unfortunate time to have to stay in your cars!  

        Luckily Soundwatch was in the area today, as there were also a lot of private boaters enjoying the nice weather.  Soundwatch is our local ocean stewardship program, initiated by The Whale Museum in 1993.  Their mission is to educate the general boating public in an effort to reduce marine mammal disturbance while these citizens conduct recreational activities in the Salish Sea.  They inform using Be Whale Wise Guidelines, created by US and Canadian governments as well as the Pacific Whale Watch Association.  Boating regulations have changed over the past few years and it is important for the public to be informed of any new regulations as well as to be as safe on the water as possible, both for humans as well as for our flippered friends.

    Pete and I eventually had to head back home, but the day symbolized the start of a fantastic season that is about to unfold!  And as I always say, "A wildlife tour is not over until we get on the dock", a huge Steller sea lion cruised right by us in the San Juan Channel, minutes from home!