August 12, 2013

Transient Orcas and Humpbacks in the San Juans!

With the grey clouds clearing Captain Mike, Tyler, the guests, and I left Friday Harbor heading north towards Speiden Channel. Just off the south west end of Speiden Island, we encountered a Humpback Whale mother and her calf! Humpbacks are sometimes spotted in the Salish Sea during their migration north. The San Juans provide a nice protected area for these huge travelers to pass though.

A short way a way, in the Haro Straight off of Sydney Island in Canada, we ran into two transient Killer Whales! T20 and T21 were headed south in Haro Strait, and possibly eventually to the Pacific Ocean. Members of the Southern Resident community of Orcas were spotted in the area as well, so it is likely that the Transient Orcas were leaving, as these two eco types typically do not like to inhabit the same waters at the same time. When all 82 Southern Residents are in the area, they are quite a group to compete with. The presence of such a large group of Orcas tends to keep out their mammal eating cousins as well as other large predators like sharks.

After our encounter with two of the types of whales that inhabit the waters around San Juan, we went in search of Bald Eagles and Harbor Seals. The Cactus Islands provided great views of both, including several eagle nests and juveniles!

As we headed south back towards Friday Harbor, I couldn't help but think what a well rounded trip we just had!

Naturalist Emily
San Juan Safaris, M/V Sea Lion