June 12, 2019

Killer whales near Friday Harbor

orcas surfacing near san juan islands

Laura | June 12, 2019 | Sea Lion | 12:00

Today we had a fantastic day out on the water on M/V Sea Lion!  We departed Friday Harbor heading out to San Juan channel and were lucky enough to find Bigg’s killer whales not far from shore! 

The family pod consisted of Sidney T123A, Stanley T123B, Lucky T123C, and a young calf T123D whose name will be up and coming!  We spent a perfect amount of time with this family as they cruised around the area and showed off their impressive blows or exhalations.  It was great to see the calf follow the behaviors of her family as hunting techniques are passed on from older family members.  Just the size comparison alone between the young individual and Stanley, a large male, was so impressive!  Pod members appeared to be foraging as their direction of travel was consistently interchanging.  These majestic animals quietly made their way through the water column, showing their hunting ability as a top predator.  It was truly an impressive sight to see these carnivores at work.

We then continued north and found a group of harbor seals hauled out on the rocks of small nearby islands and some were popping up near our boat!  The nice warm sunshine seemed to suit these sea puppies well as they basked in the midafternoon rays.  Bald eagles were seen perched among the treetops and soaring overhead throughout our day which was a wonderful addition to the atmosphere around us.  We were even able to get some glimpses of harbor porpoise!  These elusive animals were more visible with the calm surrounding seas. 

A young passenger even spotted a passing fish, showing the abundance of ocean life that can be seen with the naked eye.  Our captain then brought us to Turn Point, and guests had up close views of the beautiful lighthouse on Stuart Island!  It was a gorgeous day out on the water today filled with diverse wildlife all around us and this trip demonstrated how lucky we are to be able to enjoy such a wonderful ecosystem!