May 5, 2019

Bigg's Killer Whales in Haro Strait: Whale Watching in the San Juan Islands

Sarah | 05/05/2019 | M/V Sea Lion | 12:00

Today was an amazing day on the water! We are seeing an incredible diversity of killer whales in our waters these days and today was no different!

We left Friday harbor and headed south through San Juan Channel, passing Griffin Bay and the south end of Lopez Island. In Cattle Pass we stopped at Whale Rocks to check out a group of Steller’s sea lions, hauled out near a group of harbor seals. It was really interesting to be able to compare the two species of pinnipeds right next to one another: the sea lions dwarfing the seals. Also on the rocks, we found a juvenile bald eagle! Bald eagles in our area take four years to transition to their adult plumage, and before that they are brown with a white mottling pattern.

After a great encounter with the pinnipeds and the eagle, we pointed north into Haro Strait towards the west side of San Juan Island and then onwards across the border towards Victoria. We found a pair of male killer whales on Beaumont Shoal trending north. We quickly realized that these were not some of our usual suspects, and that we had some of our rarer whales visiting the Inland waters of the Salish Sea! T125A and T128 usually travel together and have been seen as far south as Monterey Bay in California. While we were on scene with the whales we got to witness a predation event on a harbor seal and some surface percussive behavior following the hunt.aro StaritHa

After leaving the whales we decided to circumnavigate San Juan Island heading North through Haro Strait and around Henry Island. We stopped to look at an adult bald eagle on Kellett Bluff and wove our way through the Islands on the way back towards Friday Harbor. We watched porpoise surfacing and harbor seals poking up through the surface. It was an amazing day spent in the Salish Sea!!

Filed by:

Captain, Lead Naturalist & Vessel Coordinator

Sarah M.

Sea Lion

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