April 17, 2017

Killer Whales in Rosario Strait

Orcas

(April 15, 2017)  Blue sky, warm sun, steep green slopes, electric blue water, and black and white whales.  That was the scene beheld by our guests today aboard the M/V Sea Lion.  Against the backdrop of Lummi and Sinclair Islands, transient orcas made steady headway up Rosario Strait.  Whale watching captains who had arrived before us observed seal munching and excited vocalizations, but by the time we glided in, the animals were back on the hunt.  We paralleled the impressive predators for a half hour, admiring a mature bull in the group and a few energetic juveniles.  

With memory cards packed with hopeful photos, the captain elected to cruise the heavily-forested north side of Orcas Island before returning to Friday Harbor.  About the time when we were approaching Sucia Island, we learned that a humpback whale had been spotted just 20 minutes north of our location.  So instead of turning left toward San Juan, we barreled right, into the inviting blue expanse of the Strait of Georgia.  North of Patos Island we intercepted the humpback.  As the animal surfaced beside our boat with a long blow, the gray back continued to feed out of the water until we could see the small dorsal fin followed by massive fluke.  The adult whale was about the size of our boat!

Turning south we motored by pods of harbor porpoise foraging in current lines and stopped in on White Rock, a national wildlife refuge.  While not an impressive piece of real estate in the eyes of humanoids, white rock was clearly well-loved by the scores of harbor seals hauled out along its water line and by the bald eagles hunting from the vantage it provides.

Andrew Munson

Naturalist, M/V Sea Lion

San Juan Safaris