July 10, 2018

Killer Whales off Stuart Island for days!

On a sunny and perfect summer day on San Juan Island like today, everyone was eager to get out on the water. As we headed up the San Juan Channel, the wind started to pick up and we were already getting a break from the summer heat on land. We had heard the same group of orcas we had seen yesterday was hanging out around the same area- North West tip of Stuart Island and around the Canadian Gulf Islands. This has been interesting to observe lately because these animals can travel and cover lots of ground in one day but are deciding to stick around one area instead. Lately, we have called this group of transient orcas our summer residents*. Captain Pete, naturalist Jordan and I were excited to go check them out and see what they were up to today. As we came out of San Juan Channel, we rounded the Northern tip of San Juan Island and went up Spieden Channel. As soon as we kicked into the Haro Strait, we could feel the wind blowing and it got significantly colder. Heading west into Canadian waters, we could already see some boats in the distance, which is always a good indication of where the whales are. The whole boat started scanning the waters looking for those dorsal fins and spouts. As we came closer, we spotted a couple of whales heading North East and coming closer to us. We followed this group for a while who seemed to just be traveling based on their synchronized surfacing and long dives. Just like we had guessed, these whales were the same group of orcas we had been with the day before. Totaling 10 animals, it was really a beautiful sight to see them come up for a breath together and having the strong sun reflect of their dorsal fins. As we followed them around Turn Point, they decided to get closer to our boat and drifted more East. They surfaced closer to us and we were able to get a good look at a very young calf born into the T124As not too long ago. After a while, we decided to give these guys some room and peel off to see what else we could encounter. As we were heading down the East side of Spieden Island, we cut in really close to shore and were able to spot 3 bald eagles and plenty of harbor seals hauled out and bouncing on the rocks.  

Mariana, Naturalist, San Juan Safaris