August 25, 2019

Orcas and Humpback Found in the North and the South!

Jordan | M/V Kestrel | 08/25/19 | 11:00am

We saw so much wildlife today!

Captain Gabe and I boated out of Friday Harbor on the Kestrel and headed south down through the San Juan Channel.

We stopped by huge rocks sitting in the middle of the channel and found Steller sea lions! These massive bouldering creatures crawled around the island, finding places to collapse for a nap.  Others swam in the water, diving between stalks of a bull kelp forest! Really amazing to see the huge animals.

Then we continued down into open waters off of the Salmon Bank. Here we found a humpback whale! This 45-foot-long whale swam in circles as it scoured the area for its tiny prey. We watched as blows exploded out of the water as he surfaced to breath and awed the whole boat.

Then he suddenly appeared close to the boat! Gabe shut down our engines and we stood in silence as we watched the bus-sized animal pass by our boat. woah.

After a while, we headed back up north, passing Friday Harbor as we continued up the channel and into President’s Channel between Orcas Island and Waldron Island. At the top of the channel, we found orca whales!

We identified them as the T36As, a Bigg’s killer whale pod consisting of 4 young whales. We watched as the whales swam very close to the island as they most likely scouted the area for any hiding seals. They swam closely together to remain even stealthier as they continued to travel, but also bonding together as a family as they rubbed up against each other.

Orca whales are incredibly social and playful animals. At one point we saw the smallest whale show us his tail! He did a couple headstands as he poked his tail far out of the water! So cute!

We slowly travelled with them as they meandered down the shore of Waldron Island all the way back down the channel and into open waters. It was so amazing to watch these powerful wild animals.

Eventually, we headed back towards another island called Flattop and found a bunch of harbor seals lounging about! They definitely looked really camouflaged against the island as they blended in with the rocks and logs.

Then we headed towards an area called Cactus Islands where we found bald eagles! Perching up in a madrona tree, a huge adult bald eagle surveyed the area. Then he leapt off into the air, displaying his 6-foot-wide wingspan before gracefully landing again on a new tree. Beautiful!

Finally, we headed back towards the harbor with smiles on everyone’s faces!