June 9, 2019

Orcas in the Strait of Juan De Fuca! 06/09/18

Jordan| M/V Kestrel | 06/09/19 | 11:00

As we got everyone suited up, excitement filled the air. Eventually everyone headed down and met with Captain Gabe by the Kestrel and we headed out of Friday Harbor. We heard reports coming from Canadian waters so we sped down the San Juan Channel and towards Cattle Pass.

Here we stopped by a huge rock jutting out of the water where we spotted some Steller sealions! These 12 foot long and 2400 pound animals lumbered around and barked at each other as they clumsily walked about the island. Some of them were even swimming in the water, playing in the current rushing past the island.

Then, suddenly a massive bald eagle appeared on the far side of the island! Looking around, he seemed to search for any scraps potentially left behind from the sealions! Did you know that bald eagles were actually scavengers? They try to steal as much food as they can instead of hunting themselves. It was really cool to see him up close. Beautiful animal.

Then we headed across towards a huge group of birds! It looked like the reminents of a bait ball. But we didn't see any signs of a predator nearby. Nevertheless, it was exciting to see the birds!

Then we headed across the water towards the Strait of Juan De Fuca heading between the Olympic Penisula and Vancouver Island. We passed Vitoria off our Starboard side and watched the city go by as we sped off towards the center of the Channel. Here we found our orca whales!

This transient pod of Orcas was booking it down the Strait towards the open Pacific Ocean. Even though they were traveling with some distant goal in mind, they were most likely also scanning the area for any potential seals or sealions that might wander in front of their path. Swimming close together, they exhibited social bonding behavior as they rubbed against each other. There was one huge male that was especially impressive to watch as he swam by! He was the size of our boat!

Eventually we headed back towards the Harbor, feeling the full spirit of adventure as the brisk wind hit our faces as we bookrf it towards the south point of San Juan and up towards Friday Harbor. What a lovely day!