June 3, 2009

Oh How Many Minkes!

The reports of Orcas are starting to roll in, but they are still too far West for us to get to them. Our Gray Whale friend, whom I have dubbed Clyde the glide, was possibly still in the waters near the naval air station, but our stalwart group clamored for something out of the ordinary. So South we headed, but for Hein Bank instead of Whidbey Island.

Our own parrot owning Capt. Craig toured us through breathtakingly calm waters in the Strait of Juan de Fuca where there were seabirds and Harbor Seals by the swarms. I saw the first loon of the season attempting to hide amongst all of the cormorants and I may have even seen a puffin, except that it dove under before I could get a good look at it. Two other wildlife watching boats were in the area of the bank and they were watching two Minke Whales dive and forage. Luckily we found our own whale and got wonderful unobstructed views of its pointed rostrum, or nose area, as it surfaced as well as the rostral grooves along the top of its snout leading to the blow holes. What a magnificent sight, especially since it went about its business of foraging and didn't seem to pay us any mind. Each time the whale broke the surface of the glassy waters we could hear its movements all was so still.

We finally had to leave the Minke, but there was more to see. Views of Victoria and Vancouver Island, Lime Kiln Point State Park with Lime Kiln Lighthouse, Harbor Porpoises playing in our wake and a surprising group of eagles. As we came around Spieden Island to see the Cactus Islands Capt. Craig spotted an eagle sitting on some rocks alone. All of a sudden we realized that we were surrounded by Bald Eagles. There were juveniles at all stages and adults; birds in the water, birds on the rocks and birds in the trees on both islands. You could not hardly take a picture for deciding which one was best.

I was astounded by the day. It was great to be out on the MV Sea Lion and I can now officially say that I have seen a Minke whale. And more eagles than I have ever seen in my life. Our enthusiastic group was a treasure as always and prompts me to say, from all of us at San Juan Safaris to all of you everywhere, thank you and we will...

See You In The Islands!
~Tristen, Naturalist

Orca Whales and Wildlife Are Our Only Business. ©