July 11, 2019

Transients Everywhere!

Jordan | M/V Sea Lion | 07/11/19 | 1:30pm

WOW! Today was unbelievable. We saw so much wildlife, it was fantastic.

Captain Erick, Naturalist Piper and I took our vessel, the Sea Lion out of Friday Harbor and headed up north through the San Juan Channel. We boated all the way up to Boundary Pass near Moresby Island where we saw orca whales!

Here we saw our first pod of orcas identified as the T77s! This group consisted of 5 whales including one of the newest members of the entire Salish Sea population! T77E! This tiny baby swam right alongside his/her mother. We were watching the family swim off the Starboard (right) side of the boat when, suddenly, the huge male of the group appeared on our Port (left) side! His massive exhalation broke the silence as everyone excitedly scurried to the opposite side of the boat and Erick completely shut off our engine. His 6-foot dorsal fin cut the flat water just a few yards away, showing off his true majesty.

Eventually, the whole family disappeared under the water and continued their traveling. We, on the other hand, turned around and headed back towards Turn Point off Stuart Island. Here we found another group of orcas! These, too, were transient orcas but composed of many pods swimming together! We even spotted the T117s that are rarely ever seen swimming in our San Juan waters! Then suddenly, this family appeared right next to our boat as well! Unbelievable. I’ve never experienced this rare, close interaction twice in one trip! Beautiful.

Eventually, we headed back towards San Juan Island, passing by Speiden Island. Here we spotted mouflon sheep! Herds of these exotic deer grazed and ran along the hills.

We also found a bald eagle on the hillside! It was interesting seeing this 3-foot tall bird literally walking around the grass.

Then, we saw a bunch of harbor seals close to the waters edge. These cuties were flopping around enjoying their time out of the water for as long as possible. So fun to see them pretty close up.

OH! And then Piper rescued some litter from out of the water! It was great. Every little effort contributes to making our oceans a healthier ecosystem for all our wildlife.

Eventually, we made it back to Friday Harbor but what an extraordinary day!