June 26, 2009

Natural Entertainment

Life is good as a naturalist these days. The Orcas are back in the islands and the summer is in full swing. With the 4th of July coming up, as well as Friday Harbor's centennial and the sesquicentennial of the Pig War there is no shortage of special events to fill those hours that can not be spent on the water. Luckily for our guests today, it was a day spent on the water and in the company of whales. And not just giant black and white dolphins, but real whales as well.

As we were making our way down the Strait of Juan de Fuca we got reports from another boat about a minke whale near Salmon Bank. It turns out that there were actually two whales and we watched for several minutes as they surfaced and fed. Each time after a breath sliding quietly back beneath the waters. Shortly though we were once again on the trail of the Orca. Luckily for us some of the other wildlife watch companies had scoped out the action before we got there.

The Orca whales, actually the world's largest dolphins, were spread out over a large area similar to where they had been the day before. There were a number of family groups numbering from approximately 4-6 individuals feeding and traveling within sight of the south end of San Juan Island. Even though there had been reports that L pod might have left the area, that was who we found today. All the groups were pretty focused on what they were doing and so there was not a lot of rambunctious behavior. But there were some quiet vocalizations heard as one family group passed by the MV Sea Lion.

Even though the south waters were as calm as could be today, it soon became time for us to go. So Capt. Nancy, Kathy, our guests and I bid the Orcas farewell and motored on back to Friday Harbor. On our return trip we caught sight of a bald eagle, some harbor seals and even a couple of harbor porpoises. It was a full and lovely day with the abundance of nature to entertain us and the sun coming out to chase away the clouds.

So, from all of us at San Juan Safaris to all of you loyal Orca fans, thank you and we will...

See You In The Islands!
~Tristen, Naturalist

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