April 26, 2017

Transient Orcas south of San Juan Island

We left Friday Harbor with reports of transient orcas headed to the South side of San Juan Island.  On our way to the area where the killer whales were seen we saw a variety of wildlife that resides here in the Salish Sea.  We saw quite a few bald eagles both perched and in flight.  We also saw a pod of harbor porpoise swimming in the area as well.  Harbor porpoise are one of the smallest cetaceans and they also tend to be shy around boats.  A surprise sighting during our venture was a triple kayak with three of our San Juan Safaris and Outfitters Employees.  Emily, the reservation manager, Sarah, the lead whale watch naturalist, and Ryder, a seasoned kayak guide for our sister company San Juan Outfitters.  They decided to circumnavigate San Juan Island on their day off, which was a 33 mile venture that they completed in just under 9 hours, crushing the previous company record! After our exciting surprise sighting we headed past Cattle Point and stopped by the “whale rocks” in hopes of seeing some Stellar’s Sea Lions.  It is always enjoyable seeing these large animals because come peak resident whale season all of the Stellar’s Sea Lions will be up North breeding on the beaches of Alaska.    After watching the Sea Lions, we then headed around to the south side of San Juan Island where we encountered to adult resident Orcas, the T011’s.  The T011’s are an older mother and son pair; with T011 estimated to be 54 years old and her son T011A who is 39 years old.  We watched as the pair traveled up and around the West side of San Juan Island.  After getting some great looks at the pair of transients we then decided to head around the North side of San Juan Island for a full circumnavigation.  On our way back to Friday Harbor we decided to stop by Spieden Island to look for some additional wildlife.  We saw the infamous introduced sheep hanging out on the South side of the island.  We then headed back to Friday Harbor with a boat full of happy guests!