August 11, 2019

Great Wildlife and Orca Tour Near Salt Spring!



Jordan | M/V Kestrel | 08/11/19 | 3:00pm

What an amazing trip!

Captain Gabe and I set out of Friday Harbor and headed north through the San Juan Channel. We boated around the eastern tip of Speiden and towards the Cactus Islands. Here we found a bald eagle!

The eagle was devouring a huge salmon on the rocks close to the water. It was really cool watching him tear pieces away and you could literally hear him eating! But then things got interesting! Another bald eagle swooped in to try and eat the fish! The two started squabbling and making a ruckus. Little did they know, they were drawing in more trouble! Suddenly another bird flew in! And then another and another! It was crazy! Suddenly there were 8 birds swooping in, fighting each other, flying in circles all around! Most were adults, but a few juveniles joined the party too with their speckly brown bodies. We left as this huge female fought off the others and spread her wings wide, literally sheltering the fish from the other birds! She puffed her feathers, so she looked even bigger! So much fun to watch!

We also saw a harbor seal eating a huge salmon in the water! I’ve never seen that before! Really neat. It looked like he was holding it in his hands! So sweet. There were actually a few seals near the eagles swimming throughout the bull kelp with their cute little heads bobbing at the surface.

Then, we continued north through John’s Pass, past teepees, and up into Canadian waters. We boated all the way up to Salt Spring Island. Here we found our orca whale! We identified him as T65A2! This large transient (Bigg’s) killer whale was travelling by himself! Don’t exactly know why, but he could possibly be trying to reunite with the rest of his family who may be nearby.

We watched as he swam and dove and showed us his beautiful dorsal fin. The sun illuminated his blow so he looked even more like a piece of art. He passed harbor seals a few times, and it looked like he got excited and stopped to check them out before deciding against hunting them. He had swum into a bay alongside Salt Spring Island and he just moseyed his way back out and towards the direction he originally came. Who knows what he’s thinking!

Eventually, we headed back home but what a lovely day!