June 2, 2019

Transient Orcas in the Haro Strait! 06/02/19

Orca whale

Jordan | M/V Sea Lion | 06/02/19 | 5:30pm

As the sun sank lower in the sky, Captain Pete and I took off out of Friday Harbor to start our sunset cruise adventure. We headed north through the San Juan Channel towards Speiden Channel.

Then we heard whispers on the whale watcher’s radio that there were orcas headed past Victoria, around the southern tip of Vancouver Island and up into the Haro Strait! They were swimming towards San Juan Island, so we all got really excited at the potential chance to see whales, so we sped off towards the west.

We boated through Speiden Channel and back down south alongside Henry Island and the western coast of San Juan Island. We crossed diagonally through the Haro Strait closer towards Canadian waters. It was a little rough as the waves picked up and the wind blew hard in our faces. Some of us even got a little wet, but everyone on board was ready for adventure and powered through! It was definitely worth it.

Then we found orca whales! Right away we knew it was going to be an exciting sighting. This pod of transient orcas, T10s, kept surfacing sporadically all around our boat and got really close! We could see their huge dorsal fins wobbling in the wind and even caught a glimpse of mom’s distinctive notch in her dorsal fin.

Because of their random movements as they surfaced all around our boat, we hypothesized that these whales were probably hunting for their marine mammal prey. One of the whales even spy hopped! It was really amazing to see the whale looking at us as it showed its whole head out of the water! She was most likely looking around the surface for any signs of seal activity.

Eventually we headed back towards the harbor but we stopped by some rocks along the way and found huge pile of harbor seals! Their fur was so beautiful! You could see some of them had pretty spotted patterns while others had more of a solid gray or pale color. Some were clearly struggling to stay on the rock as the tide rose.

Then we also saw a bald eagle! It was a serene image of the bird majestically sitting atop a pine tree as the sun set and cast picturesque shadows and colors all over the islands and water.

What a lovely day! Thank you San Juan for being so full of happy surprises.