September 18, 2018

Humpbacks and Orcas Spotted | 09/18/18 | 02:00pm

Southern Resident Killer Whales

Today was an incredible day on our afternoon adventure tour from Friday Harbor. It was one of those September days that I spend allllllll summer thinking about. We left the dock under bright blue skies with great reports of whales around the San Juan Islands.

We headed north towards the reports of whales, and first encountered a pair of humpback whales know as BCY0160 “Heather” and BCY0660 “Raptor.” As we got on to scene one of the massive whales lifted its pectoral fins out of the water and smashed them down on the surface one by one. These side fins are the longest of any whale at around 15 feet long each! As we watched we also had the whales participate in some feeding behavior, one whale even lifted its face out of the water! Typically humpback whales in our waters are loners, so to have two individuals travelling together was a great sighting.

We decided to press further north towards the outer islands of the San Juans and found some harbor seals on the way! Just south of Patos Island we found over 50 members of the Southern Resident killer whale population from all three pods: J, K & L. We got awesome looks at members of K pod, especially K21 Cappuccino. K pod has not been around as much in the last couple of years so it was awesome to spend some time surrounded by their familiar fins. We also had a fantastic encounter with the J17 matriline. The whales were getting rowdy at the surface, tail slapping, breaching, and snuggling.

After leaving the orcas, we headed for the dock in Friday Harbor. On he way we had another encounter with the same pair of humpbacks right outside the harbor! It was a perfect cap to an amazing fall day.