July 7, 2020

J Pod of the Southern Resident Killer Whales Happy in Haro Strait

Orcas in Haro Strait

Olivia | M/V Sea Lion | July 7, 2020 | 13:30

What a special day on the water with Captain Sarah and all our guests. We were able to leave the dock with rumors of Orcas on the west side of San Juan Island, which is always extra heart racing. The reason this particular trip felt special, was because these were not just any orcas; they happen to be J Pod of the Southern Resident Killer Whales. This critically endangered ecotype of orca was labeled the name ‘resident’ by their history of being abundant in the Salish Sea. [Side note: check out a glimpse of them at the end of the movie, Free Willy!]

As of late, their numbers have been depleting rapidly due to the lack of food (Chinook Salmon) in the area for a multitude of reasons. What used to be a rich population now resides roughly around 70 individuals. Seeing Killer Whales is magical, seeing THIS POD was an opportunity of lifetime that will be few and far between; a viewing that most people might never have the chance to experience.

We hung out with this group a bit far off to start as they hugged the shoreline in search of food, but as we circled north again, the J16’s came in to feed. There were pectoral slaps, lobtails, lunging, and of course the year-old female calf! We eventually peeled off and made our way back towards Spieden Island to see an active Eagles nest, Bald Eagles, Harbor Seals, and Mouflon Sheep before aiming back to Friday Harbor.

These Southern Resident Killer Whales always seem to bring a bit of bittersweet emotions with them into these waters. The emotions tend to be a mix of excitement and sadness, but most importantly, a streak of hope as there is always something we can do to help. In order to find out more, join us on the boat to chat with our Captains and Naturalists, or send us an email to find out how you can be a part of it.