June 14, 2019

Heather, Raptor, and the T49A's

Erin | M/V Sea Lion | Friday, June 14, 2019 | 12:00 PM

What a fantastic afternoon out in the Salish Sea! It began with humpback whales directly outside of Friday Harbor. We headed a couple of minutes south before seeing two humpback whales. They were diving at the same time and coming up to the surface at the same time. We got to see both of their flukes come up out of the water, and the whales were identified as Heather and Raptor, who are two female humpback whales. After seeing them surface a few times, we headed south toward Cattle Point in pursuit of some orca reports. While we were leaving the vicinity of the whales, there were harbor porpoises playing in the wake that our boat was making. It was incredible to see them! 

We went around Cattle Point and saw the lighthouse and a lot of evidence of upwelling and currents. Then, we changed directions and started going north along the western side of San Juan Island. We made it to where Lime Kiln lighthouse was in view, and then we saw a large dorsal fin in the distance. We were in the midst of some orcas! At first they were travelling north right along the shoreline near the lighthouse, but then they changed direction and started to move offshore and travel south. We got to see them a little bit closer, and we were able to see key features on their dorsal fins and saddle patches. There were five whales in the pod, and they were the T49A's. There was even a smaller whale in the pod, which looked like a very young juvenile. It was awesome to see orcas with the beautiful western side of San Juan Island in the backdrop. 

After watching the orcas, we made our way back towards the harbor. We got to see a humpback whale right by Cattle Point, and it did a nice fluke-up dive. We also saw some Steller's sea lions in the same area. They were "roaring" at each other, and a few of them were rolling around in the water. It was a day full of great wildlife. Until next time, folks. 

Naturalist Erin