October 8, 2017

Steller Sea Lion Flings Salmon Near San Juan Island

Saturday, October 7 – M/V Sea Lion – 12:00 PM :

When the M/V Sea Lion began its voyage today, the captain, crew, and guests had no idea that we’d be witnessing the pure power and agility of our namesake!  As we left Friday Harbor, we headed through Upright Channel and down the east side of Lopez Island. We had gorgeous views of Anacortes, and, as we rounded the southern tip of Lopez, of the Olympic Peninsula, with its mountains raising high above the Salish Sea. Captain Mike slid the M/V Sea Lion between Castle Island and Lopez and we spotted two majestic bald eagles towering over us, one on either side of the boat!

Continuing our voyage, we found ourselves at Whale Rocks, spying on a large colony of Steller sea lions! Cattle Pass was extra choppy today as the wind over the conflicting tides threw white caps galore, and the Stellers were thriving in it! These rough waters are their jam and as we held on tight, we watched as the large bulls, measuring 11 feet and weighing up to 2500 pounds, rolled around gracefully in the sea. We saw them amble, not quite as gracefully, up the sides of the rocks, playing King of the Hill, and we heard them roar! Each one louder than the next, the noise was impressive.

 

After we were content in our sighting of the world’s largest species of sea lion, we started in the direction of smoother water, up the San Juan Channel. We eyed a haul-out of harbor seals (or, rock sausages) on a near-by outcropping and the size comparison was just astounding—these seals seemed so little compared to the power of the Steller! We began to speed back up but shortly after, Captain Mike slowed the vessel once more and, as I was standing near the stern of the M/V Sea Lion, I wasn’t all too sure why we were making a stop… But my questions were quickly cleared up! 

Just off the starboard side a giant Steller sea lion threw its head above water with none other than Chum salmon flailing out of its mouth!! Unbelievable! The sea lion gave the salmon quite a few good flings, chomping bits out all the while and, with its meal in mouth, the sea lion headed south, back towards Cattle Point (with a raft of five or so sea lions in tow) and we headed north to Friday Harbor. Another glorious day in nature on the books.