August 23, 2012

International Travelers

Today we headed north on a wildlife adventure!  Incredible scenery through the northern San Juan Islands; we passed by Spieden Island first.  Adult male mouflon sheep were grazing near shore; their large and round horns are quite a sight.  Several females were also resting in the grass close by.  We also spotted a bald eagle at the top of a tree looking out for its next meal.  A harbor seal was resting with her pup on a mattress of rockweed, a type of seaweed, up against the shoreline.  These pups nurse for about six weeks and then it is time to learn to hunt for fish.  As we turned toward Stuart Island, we kept a lookout for any splashing at the surface.  Harbor porpoise would quickly pop up, and down they would dive.  Once we crossed Boundary Pass, we hugged the shoreline of Saturna Island.  We were in Canada!  We moved through these waters for a period of time, on the lookout for large marine mammals.  We turned back toward Waldron Island and sure enough, the elusive minke whale (48°41.44N, 123°05.42W).  Surrounded by seabirds, including rhinoceros auklets, common murres, and glaucous-winged gulls, a bait ball was just under the surface.  Several surfaces by the minke allowed us to see that curved dorsal fin and pointed rostrum, or snout.  After watching the minke for several minutes, we returned to Friday Harbor under sunny skies.  So much to see while on the water!

SJS Naturalist Jenny