September 21, 2019

Southern Resident Orcas & Humpback & Sea Lions!

Jordan | M/V Kestrel | 09/21/19 | 11:00am

What a really great day out on the water!

Captain Gabe and I headed south through the San Juan Channel and headed towards a beautiful lighthouse off the southern tip of San Juan: Cattle Point lighthouse.

Nearby, we stopped at Whale Rocks and watched tons of Steller sea lions! They wandered around the rocks, barked at each other and splashed in the water! It looked like they were really enjoying the beautiful sunny day!

Then, we boated out into open waters off of Lopez Island. Here, we spotted a big blow in the distance! A humpback whale! Excited, we boated over and watched as this massive animal swam in circles and fed! It looked like there was a lot of fish in the area as birds swarmed every which way and diving birds dipped underwater.

Suddenly, the whale popped up right next to our boat! We could smell its fishy breath! It was so close; we could see the tubercles on its face! Each bump has one to two little hairs poking out of it.

We watched as the whale continued to feed and dive and show us his huge tail! What a gorgeous display!

Eventually, we boated over towards the west side of San Juan and we found orca whales! Not just any orca whales, the southern resident orca whales! These critically endangered killer whales have been elusive for most of the summer, so we were very lucky to see them today.

We watched primarily K pod! Specifically, we identified K16, K35 and K21, also known as Opus, Sonata and Cappuccino! This matriline consists of mother, son and adopted son! Cappuccino was adopted into this little family within K pod and serves as a great older brother to Sonata. We watched as these beautiful whales swam past our boat and foraged for salmon.

Then, it looked like Cappuccino found something! He tossed and turned in the water, splashing around as he wrangled his next meal! Amazing! Very cool to watch a 30-foot whale thrashing around like that. His massive dorsal fin wobbled in the wind as he fed.

We continued to watch as we boated alongside the orcas, watching blows far off in the distance as well.

Eventually, we headed back towards the harbor.

But, along the way we found a sea lion attacking a fish! It was so crazy! The sea lion whipped his head back and forth to tear apart the fish as seagulls flocked and a pecked at the scraps at the surface.

What a fantastic day!