July 12, 2020

A Special Day with the Southern Resident Killer Whales and Surprise Humpback Whale

Southern Resident Killer Whales near San Juan Island

Olivia | M/V Kestrel | July 12th, 2020 | 14:00

Talk about an adventure trip! It was so fun on our zodiac today in the sunshine and big waves down south of San Juan Island. Before then, we stopped and observed Harbor Seals hauled out basking in the sun near Turn Island.  This was a chill way to start the trip before our guests became troopers as we had to go a bit slower than normal after we crossed into the Strait of Juan de Fuca due to the high swells. Just north of South Beach, we were able to first spot Southern Resident Killer Whales!

We were not expecting to see them until closer to Hannah Heights, therefore it was a great surprise. This individual happened to be J26 “Mike” foraging offshore. Before we knew it, a couple females were not far behind and they all seemed to disperse before our eyes. It was great to shut off the engines and discuss the history of this special ecotype while viewing them swim, dive, breath, and forage in their historical home sight.

We continued slowly moving further offshore in a northerly direction, knowing J Pod was dispersed and not wanting to disrupt the waters. We then found more of J Pod! We came across Blackberry and Onyx, two of the largest males in the Southern Residents as well as a few ladies off in the distance. We even witnessed two full body breaches! This felt so magical in the afternoon sun watching as they foraged, breathed, played, and dispersed.

As we headed north past Lime Kiln Lighthouse, we even found a surprise Humpback Whale and were able to stay long enough to see this solo giant fluke! We ended up circumnavigating San Juan Island where the water became flat as could be and a Bald Eagle soared overhead. If this wasn’t the definition of a special trip, I don’t know what is.