March 27, 2021

A Calm & Beautiful Saturday with J Pod!

Jordan Higgins | M/V Sea lion | 03/27/21 |1:00pm

Today was a fantastic day out on the water! Captain Pete, Laura and I hopped on our vessel, the Sea Lion, and took off out of Friday Harbor.

We were lucky to begin the tour with reports of Southern Resident whales just a couple islands away! But, before we could even leave the harbor, we found a different wildlife surprise: Steller sea lions! There were three of them lounging in the water, showing off their massive bodies as they relaxed on the surface.

As we continued, we headed up the San Juan Channel and boated around Shaw Island, towards Orcas Island. At the mouth of East Bay we found the whales! It was extraordinary as we watched blow after blow erupt from the water. After counting, we discovered that we were witnessing 25 whales swimming very closely together. That’s the entire J pod family! Often the whales are scattered across miles of open ocean, but today they were very close together, rubbing against each other and travelling very slowly. It was nice to see them so calm and content enjoying the company of their family. Among them, the massive 30-foot males swam alongside our newest babies! I always love seeing my personal favorite orca: a huge male named Blackberry! In the group, J57 and J58, born in the Fall of 2020, were seen swimming happily next to their mothers.

After admiring these beautiful animals, we decided to seek out more wildlife up North! As we arrived at Spieden Island we immediately found a whole group of huge Steller sea lions basking on the rocks. Their size always impresses us.

As we boated further along we saw masses of exotic animals roaming and grazing along the hills. Mouflon sheep, sika deer, fallow deer were gallivanting every which direction.

Passing a tree overlooking the water, we saw a gorgeous bald eagle posing for us with great elegance.

Finally, we arrived at some shallow rocks and found a bunch of harbor seals blending in against their tiny island. It was great being able to compare them to their much larger cousins we saw only a few minutes earlier.

Eventually, we returned home but we felt so lucky to have seen so much! And I felt personally lucky to have met such a great group of people today! Thank you everyone!