June 16, 2018

Friday Harbor Orcas!

Headed out of Friday Harbor on a summer-like June day after a pretty rainy and moody month, we were finally getting a taste of that hot summer sun! The breeze in the harbor was warm and the water calm and clear. Captain Mike, naturalist Piper and myself headed north for the San Juan Channel to look for some whales. We barely made it out of the harbor when we received a call from a nearby boat that there were whales headed towards the harbor coming from the south end of the island up the channel.

Wow, we didn't even have to leave the harbor this day! We quickly made a U-turn along with some boats ahead of us and headed towards them. Sharing this information with the guests, we were all so anxious and excited to see what group of orcas was going to grace us with their presence today! As we all kept our eyes out for those dorsal and spouts, a group of three orcas surfaced right in the middle of the channel in front of Friday Harbor. We couldn’t tell exactly how many individuals were in the group because they were quite a bit spread out. The longer we watched them, the closer to shore they swam. They ended up hugging the East side of Brown Island and showing slow traveling behavior by their synchronized patterns when taking a breath. We decided to leave them after about half an hour and head further South to see what other animals we could find! We ended up coming across some Steller sea lions down at Whale rocks showing aggressive behavior towards one another. A particular one that’s been hanging around the island seems at least the size of 3 put together!  

After having a blast watching the sea lions and some Harbor seals hauled out on the same rocks, we then decided to head into Haro strait and go look for some Minke whales. We never found Minkes, but we did find orcas again! A group of them was traveling ahead of the others we had spotted earlier, and they were headed straight towards us. We watched this group for a bit, turning our motor off to hear them breathing. As they rounded the tip of Cattle Point Lighthouse they headed North up Haro Strait and we went back into San Juan Channel. Heading towards the harbor, we encountered the group of orcas we had seen earlier that trip and got a close enough look at them to identify them as the T37s!

Mariana, Naturalist, San Juan Safaris