April 17, 2021

Transient Orcas Hunting on the Canadian Boarder!

Jordan | M/V Sea Lion | 04/17/2021 |1:00pm

What a fantastic day! It started off incredibly warm and sunny as the bright blue sky promised a great trip no matter what we ended up seeing.

Captain Pete and I jumped on the Sea Lion with our excited guests and boated out towards sea. Heading up the San Juan Channel, we passed Shaw and Orcas Islands and rounded the northern coastline of San Juan. Continuing back around, we headed south down the Haro Strait.

We started to see boats in the distance and knew that was a good sign! As we approached, we saw that there were Orcas in Canada! Because of current restrictions, we are not allowed to boat into Canada BUT luckily, we were able to boat close to the boarder and were able to have some great views of the whales.

It was astonishing how straight these orcas were swimming. They were perfectly aimed north for our entire trip! We watched as two pods mingled and hunted throughout the waters. A few times, the entire group would stop and circle a specific area indicating that they were hunting and possibly feeding beneath the surface. Based on their dorsal fins, we identified them as transients, or Bigg’s killer whales, who feed on exclusively marine mammals. So, we were most likely witnessing the whales attacking harbor seals.

It was heartwarming to watch as they swam closely together and seemed to rub up against one another as they travelled. There was even a baby whale who swam alongside his/her mother and bobbed up and down as the youngster intently watched his family hunt and learned their techniques.

Eventually they swam deeper into Canada, so we boated towards Stuart Island to check out a gorgeous light house. Turn Point! This area marks the deepest point in the San Juans at about 1,200 feet deep.

Then, we continued towards Spieden Island where we watched harbor seals along the shoreline, mouflon sheep with their lambs on land and even spotted a bald eagle hiding in a tree!

On the eastern point of the island, we even found a huge group of Steller sea lions barking and playing on the shoreline.

Finally, we headed back to the harbor.

What a great day!