July 6, 2019

Southern Residents Returned!!

Jordan | M/V Sea Lion | 07/06/19 | 5:30pm

What an exciting day out on the water! It all started as Captain Erick, Naturalist Piper and I set out of Friday Harbor down the San Juan Channel towards reports of whales down off the south side of San Juan.

We boated south and passed Cattle Point lighthouse as beautiful shadows started to cast down through the clouds. The calm water turned rough as we entered the Salmon Bank and out into the Haro Strait. Brave people road the bow like a roller coaster as we rose and fell with the waves. But it was fun!

Eventually we saw blows in the distance, lit up by the setting sun like glowing halos. We boated closer and found a huge male whale near our boat with his family members further off in the distance! We identified these as the Southern Resident whales! These orca whales were not seen for weeks and months within the San Juan Islands and now they’re back! It was super exciting to see them! We specifically identified them as J-pod.

These beloved whales have been in the news a lot recently as their critically endangered status has touched the hearts of thousands world-wide. We felt really blessed to be in their presence.

As we watched, the whales joined together as they socialized with each other and suddenly took a turn for our boat! We shut off our engines, and the boat fell silent. The huge animals passed right in front of our boat and you could even here them breathe! Really really amazing sighting.

The animals seemed to relax and play as a baby breached multiple times! We got to see his little white belly! Then the giant 30-foot male stuck his massive curled tail up out of the water and showed us a bit of his belly too! So cool!

Eventually, we headed back towards Friday Harbor. But, wow, what a great day.