September 8, 2009

Playful Porpoise

Abundant wildlife in the area....but where are the whales? A question we were all asking today. With captains scouting the seas around the San Juans near and far and no sign of our Resident Orcas, we decided to give it a try to the south.

Dozens of Harbor Seals and around 10 male Stellar Sea Lions were hanging at Whale Rocks today. A few Stellars were splashing around waving their flippers while swimming through the kelp beds.

A couple of very active groups of birds swarming over a bait ball (lots of small fish below the surface), a big feeding frenzy! And a ton of Phalaropes out there nowadays...(delicate sea birds that feed on small plankton at the surface).

It was a calm day in the Straits for scouting Minkes....no sign of one til much later in the afternoon by a fellow boat.

Plenty of porpoise though! I really haven't seen many Dall's Porpoise this season and it was my first day all summer to finally have a few playful ones come bow ride! I love when they do this. The guests were really amused and surprised how sleek and quick these porpoise really are. One minute they are riding the wave that the boat's creating by pushing through the sea, the next they shoot off to the side and ride the wake at the stern (back end) of the boat. Just beautiful! We had a few do this out near Hein Bank and then we were told of a dozen or so playful ones north in Haro Strait off of San Juan Island. It was awesome!

The really interesting thing is that one of the porpoise near Hein Bank was really odd colored...perhaps a hybrid between a Harbor & Dall's porpoise?! This particular porpoise was the size of a Dall's Porpoise, but it was a pale whitish color along its dorsal side...not the same hump the Dall's have in their back and lots of rake marks all along it. I wish we snapped a photo, but it was much too quick for us!

Another special day in the San Juans,
Jaclyn Van Bourgondien, naturalist

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