July 8, 2019

Orcas and Humpbacks and Seals Oh My!

Jordan | M/V Sea Lion | 07/08/19 | 1:30pm

What a really fantastic day out on the water! The sun was out but there were clouds in the distance painting the horizon with beautiful puffy whiteness. Captain Gabe, Naturalist Erin and I set out of Friday Harbor on our vessel and headed north through the San Juan Channel to reports of wildlife.

Boating near Waldron Island, we stopped by a place called White Rocks where we found a bunch of harbor seals! There were literally mounds of seals flopping around the small rocks, escaping the coldness of the 47-degree sea.

Then, we headed up across Boundary Pass with the Canadian island Saturna directly to the north of us as we found humpback whales!! Two huge animals swam at the surface of the water as they exhaled with explosive breaths and dove back down. Staying at the surface and moving very slowly, I hypothesized that they were resting or potentially even sleeping! We were able to identify them as the two whales: “Heather” and “Raptor.” Very cool!

Heading west across Boundary Pass we found orca whales only a few minutes later! These transient orcas whom we identified as the T65As were casually swimming through the water in search of seals. The huge male T65A2 broke apart from his family and swam closer to our boat, showing off his massive 6-foot tall dorsal fin.

Then, suddenly, the humpbacks appeared again! Close to shore, we saw the whales wake up and take a deep dive as their tails popped up out of the water and they disappeared back under to potentially avoid the orcas that were only a few hundred yards away! We rarely see two species of whales in one day let alone two species so close together! Amazing!