June 24, 2018

T49A's and T65A's Socializing in San Juan Channel!

Captain Mike, Rachel, and I boarded the M/V Sea Lion today with a great group of guests! Today there was a report of some Bigg’s killer whales just outside of Friday Harbor so as we boated into the sunny San Juan Channel, we headed north. Along the way, we came across a bald eagle’s nest, occupied by an adult and a juvenile which were peering down onto the shores of their island at a group of harbor seals which had made themselves comfortable on the low-lying rocks. We carried on and within minutes we were in the presence of the Bigg’s killer whales!

This group of orcas actually consisted of two families, the T49A’s and the T65A’s, which were spending the day traveling together and socializing. We watched as the orcas traveled up the channel, spy-hopping, back-diving, and fluke waving all the way! What an amazing sighting!

After a while we made our way south again in search of other critters. We arrived at Cattle Pass and found a haul-out of Steller’s sea lions which had not yet left for their summertime Alaskan breeding grounds. This was a super cool Steller’s sighting. Most of the remaining individuals are juveniles, but one is a large male and he was in the water trying to get up on the rocks. He tried, leaping out of the water, but changed his mind and fell back into the currents. On the next attempt he must have communicated his frustration because suddenly the juvenile sea lions fled the area and allowed the mature male to stake out a section of the oasis. After a while longer of scanning the horizon we found our way back to Friday Harbor. What a great trip!