September 12, 2019

Mount Rainier and Dall's Porpoises Return to the San Juan Islands!

Dall's Porpoises in the Strait of Juan de Fuca

Olivia | September 12th, 2019 | M/V Sea Lion | 12:00pm

What a great day near San Juan Island! Captain Gabe, Co-Naturalist Piper and I headed south through the San Juan Channel to aim for the Strait of Juan de Fuca in hopes of seeing potential whale sightings. We made a stop at Whale Rocks where we were able to view [and listen] to heaps of Steller’s Sea Lions! Loving these large Pinnipeds, it was so great to hear their deep bellows and watch them snooze, play, and swim in the high current area.

Once we boated just south of Cattle Point, we were able to find a Humpback Whale! This individual was MMX0006 “Double Drop” and was averaging four-minute dives munching along Salmon Bank. We decide to rename him “Syke” because half of his dives he would tease us and not show his fluke, aka, syyyke! Have I mentioned that we were catching glimpses of Mount Rainier today!? This is so uncommon, it was [personally] the third time all season it was clear enough to see her snowcapped peak. How could I have not led with this rare, non-wildlife sighting!  

Gabe decided to bring us west into the oncoming rain in an area that hasn’t been scoped out since early this morning in hopes to see if any cetaceans were swimming around that we didn’t know about. To our biggest, most excited surprise, we came across many black and white cetaceans-and no, they weren’t Orcas. We saw Dall’s Porpoises! We were EXSTATIC! Personally, I have never seen them, and it had been a long time since both Gabe and Piper have. Mostly visiting our waters during the early spring and the late fall, they are not a common animal to see and they came in stride. Rooster tail splashes, wily jumps out of the water, and over a dozen porpoising through the rain.

Coming back into San Juan Channel we also saw our Harbor Porpoises who were making sure we didn’t forget about them. We were the first vessel to see the Dall’s return to the San Juan Islands and were completely thrilled. It just goes to show that on any given day you never know what you’re going to see- come be a part of these daily discoveries.