July 7, 2013

Identity Crisis and Good Luck Charms

What an amazing trip we had today! The wind was minimal, the water was like glass, and the guests were fabulous. The wildlife was simply “steller” as well. In fact, we actually saw a male and female Steller Sea Lion on Whale Rocks at the south end of San Juan Island right off of Cattle Pass! Steller Sea Lions aren’t seen as frequently as our Harbor Seals and can weigh up to two ton! Aimee and I were quite pleased with the sighting.

After watching the Sea Lion, Captain Mike wanted to visit his favorite whales- the Minkes. As always, I just wanted to see the Killer Whales, but we chugged out to Salmon Bank anyway. It sure is a good thing too, the Minkes were everywhere! They surrounded us for about twenty minutes coming up just yards from all sides of our boat! They were lung feeding so we got a clear view of their pleats of baleen as well (all 500-700 strands of it)! I was certainly amused, and was even sad to leave them to go catch up with our Southern Resident Killer Whales. Who would have thought, me, sad to go see the Orcas!? Those Minkes sure did the trick!

When we got to our three family members, L-22, L-79 and L-89 were there waiting. As I’ve said in previous blogs, you really need to keep your eye on Spirit- L-22. She never ceases to surprise me. As soon as we got close, she lept right out of the water in a full breach. It looks to me like she is very much enjoying all of the attention she is getting. Throughout our time with her and her two sons (Skanna and Solstice), Sprit proceeded to breach, tail slap, and provide us all with amazing views. I’m really starting to develop a soft spot for her.

We also had a Minke in the group of Killer Whales that seemed to be having somewhat of an identity crisis. It was swimming with the L-Pod members and coming close to our boat as well. It became clear when the Minke whale jumped clear out of the water in a breach that this whale was having some serious misidentification issues. I’ve been watching whales since I was six. I have NEVER seen a Minke whale breach. Minke whales spend about 90% of their time under water, seeing one breach was incredibly rare. Amy and I were literally hopping for joy!  We were all elate! We firmly believe that our guests on board tonight were our good luck charms. It was a night like no other (as they all seem to be). Captain Mike was especially happy with the show; Minke whales are after all, his favorite. I hope to see each and every one of my readers on the water soon to share in these magical moments!!!

Heather, Naturalist, M/V Sea Lion

San Juan Safaris