June 21, 2012

Transients and a "Holy" Minke!

Today we visited some of the bad boys/bad girls of the sea, the Transient Orcas. Now don’t get me wrong, they aren’t misbehaved, they just prefer some of the larger meat items on the menu. 

The first one we spotted was a male headed north in the San Juan Channel just offshore of San Juan Island. Transients are fairly individualistic so it was not a surprise to see him alone. It was a surprise however to some Harbor Porpoise just off our stern headed in the same direction. If I were them, I’d turn around! 

We then heard rumor of more Transients in the same channel, headed in the opposite direction, so we turned around and caught up with them off Goose Island (42°26.09N, 122°56.09W). It was the T 75’s, a group of about 6 or 7 including a very newborn calf, peach markings and all. We stayed with them for a while and then left to sneak in one last adventure before the tour’s end.

Within minutes of our new adventure, a passenger on our stern yelled “Holy Whale!!!” or at least something very similar, yet not so censored. He was completely startled by an enormous Minke Whale that had risen to the surface, full back out of the water, within arms-reach of the boat. Everyone froze, not a breath was taken, as our eyes were glued to this enormous creature passing slowly alongside our boat.

Once it had passed and the passengers had regained themselves the silence was overcome with excitement “Oh my gosh! Did you see that?!!!!”

Everyone had seen it, but no one had taken photos; it was clearly one of those moments that could only be lived in.

Today our breaths were literally, taken away.

Naturalist Tara, San Juan Safaris.