May 25, 2010

Going with the flow, the art of watching wildlife.

Working as a Naturalist, I have become accustomed to going with the flow (pardon the nautical idiom.) This is often an acquired skill for people, as wildlife has a way of constantly thwarting our wishes to watch them in their natural setting. With a world now filled with zoos, aquariums, and Sea Worlds expectations are often high to have wildlife cooperate with our desires, even ones outside these man-made settings. The orcas have started coming back into this area very frequently - which is common for this time of year. However, some days we see them and others we don't. This adds to the excitement during the days we do and, luckily for us, today was one of the amazing days where orca sitings seem to be coming from all over place! There were reports of orcas near Galiano Island, the report of L Pod off the south end of San Juan Island, and another group was reported to be somewhere in the vicinity of Victoria.

Captain Craig, our guests, and I headed out of Friday Harbor with the intentions of going south to catch up with L Pod who were reported by Eagle Point near South Beach on San Juan Island. Just minutes after leaving the harbor the Captain began driving around in circles. I went to check with him and he explained to be that the whales couldn't make up there minds about which way to travel. Until they did, we couldn't make up ours either. L Pod had started to move north. Then had turned around and started heading south. So, after cruising around in a circle or two we headed south, too!

We found L Pod (or some of L Pod) just north of False Bay. When we first arrived most of the animals were traveling in groups of 3-6 animals traveling close to shore. As we continued to travel with them, various groups seemed to converge and moved offshore. We saw a young calf, an adult male, and many females (or younger males).

It was a chilly, gray day - but nice and calm on the water. After waving goodbye to the whales we headed back towards Friday Harbor - coming back the way we'd came. On the journey homeward everyone onboard saw a bald eagle sitting on the tree adjacent to it's nest on Long Island. We arrived back to Friday Harbor chilled and content, ready to relax the evening away with a warm cup of coffee and dreams of orcas.
Until next time,
Ashley
Naturalist