June 18, 2009

Minke Maneuvers

Our evening sunset tours are very popular, but after tonight they are going to be the talk of the town. It is not every day that less than five minutes after you leave the dock you are with a whale. But on this night, that is exactly what happened. Capt. Nancy and I boarded our guests onto the MV Sea Lion for an evening cruise in the hopes that the Orcas that we knew were west of Victoria, B.C. would swim our direction. I had just finished giving the group some history on the islands and was stowing the gear when a customer on the bow yelled "WHALE". Capt. Nancy and I assumed it was a porpoise or a seal, because how could it be a whale, we were in Friday Harbor. But sure enough, up it came again and the blow gave it away as a whale.

As it turns out there was a Minke Whale feeding right in the mouth of the harbor. It slowly circled the boat in a feeding pattern as we drifted in the current. It would breathe once and then dive for approximately 2 minutes. The captain and I agreed that we had never heard of something like this happening before. Of course, just a few nights before I had watched a Harbor Seal feeding on a Herring bait ball right in the marina. The fish were right up next to the floating dock amidst the boats and the seal was maneuvering effortlessly through the water slurping up it's dinner. If it had followed the food into the harbor, there was no reason that the Minke couldn't do the same thing. Being only 30' long there is more than enough room in the channel for the whale to swim and move.

The rest of our tour was full of porpoises, eagles and we even caught a glimpse of some of the Sika and Fallow Deer on Spieden Island. The eaglet looks as good as ever in the nest on Spieden as well, and was busy chowing down on some dinner that a parent flew into it while we were watching. It looked as if snake was on the menu tonight.

The bounty and beauty of the islands is unsurpassed and we are all proud to call it home. So, from all of us at San Juan Safaris to all of you who dream to visit, thank you and we will...

See You In The Islands!
~Tristen, Naturalist

Orca Whales and Wildlife Are Our Only Business. ©