July 20, 2009

San Juan Island, where the whales are...

Today we headed north in the San Juan Channel. We had a few sightings of orcas earlier at False Bay on the west side ofSan Juan Island. We were originally considering going south. But as we motored out of Friday Harbor, we heard that the orcas were moving up on the west side of San Juan Island - fast.

So we went north and cruised past the south side of Spieden Island, which is just north of San Juan Island. As we looked for big black dorsal fins or a big blow from the bow of our vessel the Sea Lion, we saw a small, triangular fin. A Harbor Porpoise!

We then saw the big dorsal fins. Our first sights of orca were right off the west side of Henry Island. Henry Island is just to the west of Roche Harbor on San Juan Island. The orcas were fishing right off shore. They are intriguing to watch as they fish - going back and forth and back and forth. We identified some individuals by their saddle patch (just behind their dorsal fin). We were seeing K pod and a few of the L pod.

The Southern Resident community consists of 85 killer whales, making up three pods: J, K and L. K pod is actually the smallest pod consisting of 19 individuals. L pod is the largest with 39 killer whales. We watched the orcas for about an hour. They began moving off shore and heading south, down San Juan Island. They probably traveled right past Lime Kiln State Park.

We then headed to the Cactus Islands and saw what I believe to be a nesting pair of Bald eagles perched si
de by side in the top of a tree. We also got a great view of their rather enormous eaglet flapping its wings in the nest. I am always surprised with how fast eagles grow. We also saw a few Harbor seals and their pups swimming around.

Another great trip with San Juan Safaris.

Naturalist Jeannette Miller
Orca Whales and Wildlife Are Our Only Business. ©