August 7, 2011

One of my top five encounters!

Today was definitely one of the top five whale encounters I’ve had since I started at San Juan Safaris! We left Friday Harbor heading south with reports that there were whales on the west side. On the way we first stopped to view a large group of harbor seals that were hauled out on a rocky island. Then, as we traveled a little further south, a thick layer of fog descended. It created an eerie ambiance as it encompassed our boat. This however did not prevent us for encountering more wildlife. Next we stopped near whale rocks to check out not only more harbor seals, but six or seven steller sea lions, some of which were hauled out on the rocks and barking, while the others were in the water and being very acrobatic.

We then continued into the silent unknown. As we got closer to the area where whales were reported we slowed, and it didn’t take long to see a lone dorsal fin in the distance. We shut our engines off since visibility was shortened due to the fog, and about a minute after doing so two killer whales came up about real close to our boat! Then a few more surfaced all around us and one even breached! They slowly started moving away from us, but Mike stayed close for a little while longer. The group was in no hurry though, taking the time to tail slap and turn over, slapping the water with their pectoral fins. I was able to identify J26 (Mike) as well as L72 (Racer) from this group.

As the moved further away the fog then started to clear. We were able to see San Juan Island again, and found more killer whales, lots of them! We slowed and watched a group of about four whales tail slapping, rolling around, and spy hopping. Then to the other side of the boat there were juveniles porpoising and breaching. The groups started coming together and there were now maybe twenty whales, one of which was obviously L41 (Mega). After just a few more minutes of watching the whales splashing around and moving away we headed back to Friday Harbor with our fair share of whales, their exciting behaviors, and amazing memories.

Kristen, Naturalist, San Juan Safaris