June 18, 2010

Summer in the San Juans

As we say (and it's true) - every day that we see orcas is a great day. I mean, here in the majestic San Juan Islands every day - whether it be sunny, cloudy, rainy, whale-free, or otherwise - offers a new and exciting kind of beauty. This means that, really, every trip out on the water, whale free or not, is a great day! That being said, today was a REALLY GREAT day for whale watching.

The summer sun shone down on our faces, as a boatload of guests, Lauren, Captain Mike, and I departed Friday Harbor. We headed north, toward Turn Point on Stuart Island to catch up with J Pod. J Pod had been reported swimming north past Turn Point lighthouse. As we rounded the north side of Stuart, we started to see whale watch boats. Then, we started to see dorsal fins!

Captain Mike motored the trusty MV Sea Lion toward a whale traveling in Boundary Pass. This whale turned out to be 19-year-old Mike (J26). Guests aboard viewed Mike as he traveled across Boundary Pass toward North Pender Island. The boat moved away from J26 and caught up with everyone's favorite whale - Ruffles (J1). He, too, was traveling toward North Pender Island. Eventually, we backtracked a bit. We caught up with a group of about 8 orcas, traveling in a close group. They appeared to be socializing - tail slaps, cartwheels, belly flops, and spy hops were in abundance today! These animals (like J26 and J1) were traveling towards North Pender. Eventually, they reached the shoreline and we traveled with them as they continued there socializing antics. The crystal calm, sun-kissed waters (touched with a hint of sky blue reflection from the summer's blue skies) made for perfect viewing conditions!

Ah, life in the islands.
Ashley, Naturalist