June 13, 2019

Three Transient Pods in Rosario Strait! 06/13/19

Orca swimming

Jordan | M/V Sea Lion | 06/13/19 | 12:00pm

Today started as a beautiful day in Friday Harbor! The sun was shining, and it truly felt like one of the first real summer day here in the San Juan Islands. Captain Sarah, Naturalist Erick, Naturalist Laura and I took our beautiful boat, the Sea Lion, out for a day of adventure! We were incredibly lucky to hear multiple reports of whales. So, we set out to find whales, excited for what the day had to offer.

We headed northeast through Upright Channel, south of Shaw Island and north of Lopez Island. We then headed south of Orcas Island through Obstruction Pass above Obstruction Island and Blakely Island. Here, the wind started to pick up as we reached the Rosario Strait and the real adventure started! The guests road our bow like a roller coaster ride as they excitedly grabbed their rain slickers and embraced the sea spray with, literally, open arms. The kids were especially happy dancing in the wetness.

As we reached Lummi island, we spotted our first whale sightings! People rushed to the rails to see our first pod of transient orcas, the T123s! This beautiful pod swam close together as they cruised around the water and potentially searched for marine mammal prey. Orcas spend about 80% of their lives either looking for food or eating food! It was amazing to see the big whale of the group, also known as “Stanley” swimming close to his mom as he followed her lead with his 6 foot tall dorsal fin wobbling in the wind.

Eventually we said goodbye and headed back across the channel to find more whales! Here, there were the T137s swimming close to the shore of Orcas Island and the T65Bs swimming near our boat! There was a really tiny baby swimming in this group! He still had white patches that looked a bit orange as his blood vessels showed through his thin blubber. Really great sightings.

As time flew by, we said goodbye to the whales and headed back home. Luckily we found some harbor seals and a bald eagle along the way! Atop a group of rocks called Pea Pod rocks, we found a bunch of harbor seals camouflaged against the rocks close to the waters edge. Perhaps, they sensed the orcas presence and realized there was danger nearby.

The bald eagle was perched on a big green sign on the rocks and seemed to soak up the rays of sun as he scanned the water for some prey.

Finally, we headed back into the harbor after a very successful day full of fun and wildlife.