July 28, 2019

Orcas and Minkes and Stellers Down South!

Jordan | M/V Sea Lion | 07/28/19 | 1:30pm

Today was magical! So many exciting things happened.

Captain Sarah and I headed out of Friday Harbor, down the San Juan Channel and towards Cattle Point.

We stopped by this small island called Whale Rocks and found some Steller sea lions! I was incredibly excited to see these huge marine mammals because they’ve been up in Alaska for their mating season for most of the summer! They lumbered around the island as their harbor seal cousins lounged nearby and basked in the sun. Then we boated further out into open waters.

Near the Salmon Bank, this shallow body of water near the southern tip of San Juan, we spotted a dorsal fin! As we neared the area, we found swarms of birds swirling through the air when suddenly a minke whale appeared!

This elusive creature is the second smallest baleen whale in the world! Not very much is known about these whales. We were enthralled as we tried to spot the whale in the random places it surfaced! It was so cool to see the seagull tornado formed as the minke whale hunted fish beneath the water!

Eventually we headed further out into open waters as we admired Mount Baker and Mount Rainier boasting their beautiful snowy peaks in the distance. Here we found orca whales! These transient aka Bigg’s killer whales travelled through the water searching for any prey and other orcas to socialize with!

This specific pod was identified as the T65As led by their mother, T65A. This pod has a tiny little baby orca just born last year! She swam really close to her mom the entire time. Just like our babies, this small whale will never wander too far from her mother for the first few years of her life. She absorbs every behavior her family exhibits so that she, too, can become a proper whale one day.

It’s always amazing to see orcas in their natural habitat!

Eventually we headed back towards the harbor and stopped by this rock swarmed by hundreds of birds! We saw double crested cormorants sitting in large nests and dozens of fluffy baby birds waddling around the island! Wow!

Finally we made it back, really content with a great day full of so much wildlife!