June 18, 2013

Transients On the Prowl!

AMAZING views of transient orcas today! Captain Mike, myself, and the passengers aboard our sunset tour were rewarded with a multitude of spectacular sightings right outside Friday Harbor. It didn't take us long to meet up with the same transients we left during our 1:30 trip since they had moved further north in our absence.

With the sun setting at our backs, we were able to coast alongside the transients as they went about their foraging behavior. Transient orcas are marine mammal-eating only, and have an affinity for harbor seals, harbor porpoises, and the occasional Steller sea lion. With the large quantities of harbor seals and porpoises in the area, it wasn't surprising that it didn't take them long to find what they were looking for. And boy were we lucky enough to witness the efficiency of these animals as they hunted!

With only a few other boats around, we were able to shut off our motors and just sit in silence as we observed wildlife in action. Generally transients are quiet to avoid being detected by their prey, but today we were rewarded with a wide range of vocalizations in their celebration of catching dinner. In addition to all the great vocalizations, the transients did not disappoint to display an array of aerial behaviors. Between the constant breaching, tail slaps, and occasional barrel roll, none of our passengers walked away without a spectacular photograph to share with family and friends back home. Overall, it was an amazing day on the water and not one that anyone will forget any time soon.

Caitlin, Naturalist- M/V Sea Lion, San Juan Safaris