August 26, 2009

Seasons Come and Go

"To everything, turn, turn, turn...", so they say and that is true of life here in the San Juan Islands. The indicators are small currently, but the times they are a changing. I saw a second Steller's sea lion in a week today, which means they are starting to wander back down here from Alaska. This one was probably another sub-adult male that was not that impressive to the females, so he is back in our waters to work on his physique so that he has more success next year.

These large otariids, or eared seals, winter-over here in The Islands and then spend the summer in Alaska feeding and wooing the women. They are a very large seal and their faces heavily resemble that of a dog. Amazingly though, they are directly related to bears. This is also true of harbor seals, but as a true seal, harbor seals are a step further removed and have been adapted to living in a marine environment longer than the sea lions have.

Another marker of the changing seasons is the end of our sunset trips. These were all lovely times on the water and I will miss them exceedingly. Of course, we still have our afternoon tours and we are still seeing our endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales. Again today actually, we were off of the south end of San Juan Island and saw members from all three resident pods. The J pod males were there, as were either L7 "Canuck" or L77 "Matia", and K40 "Raggedy" with here brother K21 "Cappuccino".

There were many more animals around, maybe even all of them, but they were spread out in a way that made it hard to tell. It was definitely almost a super pod, just without all of the acrobatics and vocalizations. It appeared as if we caught them during a resting and traveling period, with maybe some slow feeding going on as well. Either way, it was a lovely day on the water and I truly enjoyed our guests as well as my co-crew Ashley and Capt. Craig. The M/V Sea Lion needs its recognition as well, since it has served us admirably this season and is a very comfortable boat to both work and sightsee on.

So, from all of us at San Juan Safaris, to all of you wildlife watchers out there, thank you and we will...

See You In The Islands!
~Tristen, Naturalist

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