July 15, 2012

Stellar's in July! Plus Js and Ls Everywhere!

What I love about living in a rain shadow is that the weather tends to clear up in the afternoon, just around the time we reach whales. Today was one of those days. We departed Friday Harbor at 1:30 pm in a hazy fog, heading south. Expecting at least some rain, we all suited up in our yellow rain slickers, binoculars in hand. There were a few harbor porpoise, but what was super unusual were the two huge, male Stellar sea lions hauled out on Whale Rocks! We typically see these sea lions in the fall and spring, but not during their breading season which takes place in Alaska.

As for killer whales, they were everywhere! We came across a few females swimming south around 2:40 pm at Eagle Cove. At this time, the fog and any indications that there would be rain vanished, providing us with amazing visibility. The whales then changed direction and we caught up with both J and L pods. It seemed that you could look off our boat in any direction and see dorsal fins. Among the many whales around we identified J-8 “Spieden and L-92 “Crewser.” They weren’t traveling in any one direction, just socializing outside False Bay. Plus, we not only got amazing views of their bodies from some breaching and rolling over, but we dropped our hydrophone into the water and heard some amazing vocalizations as well! Definitely one of my top 3 trips of the season!

~Kristen, Naturalist, San Juan Safaris