August 30, 2019

Kittiwake Southern Resident Killer Whales!

Jordan | M/V Kittiwake | 08/30/19 | 11:00am

What a fantastic day out on the water! Captain Gabe and I took the Kittiwake and 10 of our new best friends out of Friday Harbor and south towards hopeful reports of whales.

We knew it was cloudy but wow, once we reached Cattle Point, it turned into one giant wall of fog! We could barely see anything! I was pretty amazed by the odd phenomenon as we boated slowly and avoided other boats on our radar. Then, we burst through the fog into the open channel.

Heading alongside the western side of San Juan Island and slightly further out into the waters towards the Olympic Peninsula, we suddenly spotted whales!

There were no other boats around when we first spotted dorsal fins! It was J pod! Aka the endangered southern resident whales who hunt for salmon. My guests were awestruck as we watched the playful pod of orcas splashing all around our boat. They leapt out of the water, threw their tails in the air, tail slapped, belly flopped and breached! It was so incredible.

This behavior continued for much of the time we were watching them! It was so sweet watching them be so playful with each other as a family.

We noted this one giant male, identified as “Blackberry!” His huge dorsal fin wobbled in the air as he chased after a fish! He was literally rolling around the surface of the water as he wrestled a salmon. He swam in circles, splashing around as he hunted and fed!

We all felt so lucky to be able to watch these amazing critically endangered population of killer whales in their natural habitat.

Eventually, we headed back towards home.

Along the way we spotted a huge bait ball, birds covering the water and hovering above the air. Then, we spotted a minke whale! This elusive tiny baleen whale circled the area, stirring up tiny fish and birds everywhere! So cool.

Then, we continued and found Steller sea lions! These 12-foot-long chunky animals lumbered around the island and found the perfect rocky spot to sleep. A few of them were even in the water splashing around! Woah.

Finally, we headed back home but we all felt so lucky for such an extraordinary day!