August 14, 2018

Smokey Whale Watch| 8/14/18| 2:00PM

Leaving the harbor on Kestrel with a full boat of excited guests and my very own brother aboard for the first time! We even had some repeat guests whom I️ had taken out last time and had no luck with, so we were even more excited to see whales today. There were already reports of killer whales by Heinz bank south of San Juan island. These killer whales were two different families of transients traveling together, including the T65As who have graced us with their presence all summer!  


Out of the harbor, we took a right down San Juan Channel and crossed cattle pass still heading south! The visibility was very poor, probably the worst I have seen it in 3 years, you could hardly see 50 feet in front of you. After about 30 minutes of traveling through still smoke in the air, due to forest fires all around us, we spotted some black dorsals breaking through the water. There were 10 orcas surfacing in front of us and we were the only boat with them for about 20 minutes which was very special. We followed them in what seemed to be no direction since we could not see land around us. After some good looks at these families dorsal fins and incredible sounds of their breaths, we pulled away and headed further south towards Smith Island. 


Smith Island is known for puffin sightings, specifically tufted puffins who nest here in the summer months. These guys are very sensitive to human disturbances so they like to nest in areas away from human activity. As we pulled up to the kelp bed right outside Smith Island, we began searching for their distinct beaks. It wasn’t long until we spotted one, and then two! They didn’t let us look at them for too long before they went back in the depths, but there must have been a dozen out there popping up and then back down. My brother and most guests aboard had never seen these puffins, so it was even more special to share this sighting with them! After a while of enjoying their presence with our motor turned off and letting them pop up near us, we pulled away. 


Now we were headed towards whale rocks to check out stellar sea lions and Harbor seals! Through the smoke, we spotted some pennipeds lazily hauled out and looking just as bothered by the smoke as we were. Crossing cattle pass, we stopped to see a bald eagle off Lopez Island coast wrapping the trip up as a success! What a treat it was to share this day with my brother among all the guests!


Mariana, Naturalist, San Juan safaris