June 3, 2010

Jumping For Joy!

It was a chore to find them, but I finally got to spend some time with J pod.  This season is starting out slowly and the orcas are still not back in the area full-time like we are used to.  That means that we spend a lot of time searching and seeing other wildlife on the way.  Today though we knew where the animals had been spotted, but once we got there it became clear why the reports had seemed so sporadic.  J pod was scattered in ones and twos over several miles with whale watching vessels mixed in.  Capt. Mike would take us over in the M/V Sea Lion to spend some time with one group before we would move on to look at another.

With all of our traveling around we were graced by the presence or J2 "Granny" at one point as she swam offshore and past our boat.  What a surprise that was for the bridal party that we had on the boat, to see the oldest known orca, who is a whopping 99 years old.  It also gave our newest naturalist, Sally, a chance to hear what Ashley and I talk about and to get a good sense of what we are looking for when we identify these animals.

We had finally wandered far enough and needed to start making our way home.  Just as we turned to leave several orcas that had grouped together started to slap and splash and work themselves into a grand finale.  There were even several breaches by a calf and a couple of cartwheels by an older individual.  The icing on the cake was cruising past the buoy at Salmon Bank and seeing both a Steller's sea lion and a California sea lion hauled out on it.  Limited space makes for strange bedfellows, that is for sure.

So, from all of us at San Juan Safaris, to all of you leaping lizards out there, thank you and we will...

See You In The Islands!

~Tristen, Naturalist