October 6, 2012

Steller’s Sea Lions Perform Full Breaches

Another busy day on the water with all the familiar faces of the Salish Sea. In addition to watching Transient Killer Whales south of D’arcy Island, British Columbia (48°30.86N, 123°16.48W), we also came across a lone California Sea Lion (a rarity in the Salish Sea). He was floating with just his head, hind flippers, and one pectoral flipper out of the water, a strategy sea lions use to regulate their body temperature in these frigid 48°F waters. On our way home we picked up a large pod of Dall’s Porpoises. When Captain Craig slowed the boat to 7 knots, we watched their “rooster tail” splashes as they turned to converge on our bow. We were all in awe as we watched their chunky bodies of solid muscle zig zag around our bow and then breach to the side for a quick breath before taking another pass across our wake. I could watch those critters all day!

There were fewer Steller’s Sea Lions hauled out on Whale Rocks today, but more were milling in the water. We were impressed by a few individuals that were breaching completely out of the water.

As was the case for yesterday, the Transients we observed stayed in a tight, slow-moving formation as they performed approximately 5 minute foraging dives. We tried our best to parallel the group as they made their way in a southerly direction toward Victoria; however, after one long dive they popped up right alongside our boat. We shut down and listened to them breath and prepare for their next stealth dive. There were quite a few sport fisherman out on Salmon Bank today and we saw a few Harbor Seals emerge with fat salmon in their mouths. If the salmon are running, the Southern Residents Orcas may be close behind!

Naturalist Andrew
San Juan Safaris Whale Watching