October 30, 2018
Orcas and Wildlife Encountered | 10/30/2018 | M/V Sea Lion | 12:00
Sarah | 10/30/2018 | M/V Sea Lion | 12:00
Today we welcomed a small group of great guests on board the M/V Sea Lion for an exploration of the Salish Sea in search of wildlife. Autumn forecasts are so fickle here in the San Juan Islands, we had no idea what to expect until we left the dock. The water was glassy and we had peek-a-boo blue skies with low hanging clouds over the islands.
We headed north through San Juan Channel towards Canadian waters in Boundary Pass. As we worked our way north through the placid waters Captain Mike spotted a group of Dall’s porpoise. These small cetaceans are deceivingly chunky in appearance; they are actually the fastest marine mammals in the world, capable of reaching 45 miles per hour in burst. We watched the small group of females and calves zip around our boat actively foraging. We decided to point further north towards Plumper Sound between Saturna Island and North and South Pender Islands. As we poked our noses into the small sound we got a call from another whale watching boat, they had contact with killer whales!
We found the group of orcas actively foraging in Swanson Channel. Looking at the group of whales, and the shapes of the fins in front of us, we were able to identify the families as Bigg’s killer whales known as T123s and the T038s. There were other whales in the area, most likely the T035s as they usually travel with the T038s. For the majority of the time we were watching the whales prey share and gulls swooping in for scraps floating to the surface. The T123s have the newest calf in the area, and it was a pleasure to see this little one again.
On the way towards Friday Harbor we stopped at Spieden Island to look for other wildlife. We enjoyed views of the non-native sheep and deer as well as of some bald eagles up on shore and on the tree tops!