September 7, 2019

Two Pods of Orcas and a Minke in the North!

Jordan | M/V Kestrel | 09/07/19 | 11:00am

What a lovely day today! Although the clouds hid the sun, everyone shone with hopes of finding whales!

Captain Gabe and I took the Kestrel out of Friday Harbor and headed north through the San Juan Channel. Luckily, we heard reports of some whales up in Canadian waters, so we booked it in that direction.

Before heading too far, we found a huge bald eagle posing on a channel marker! He was perched so we could all see a great view of his entire body! Beautiful.

Then we made another pit stop and found a rock full of harbor seals flopping on top of each other as they avoided the flooding tides.

As we neared Waldron island, BOOM! A whale exploded out of the water right next to our boat! It was a minke whale! So unexpected. We shut off the boat and watched as the minke zig-zagged and circled the area as it fed on tiny fishy prey. As one of the smallest baleen whales, it uses its very efficient baleen to filter its food and avoid swallowing gallons of saltwater.

Eventually we continued up President’s Channel alongside Orcas Island and found our first blows beneath Patos Island! Everyone instantly got excited and jumped out of their seats as we approached and found two orca whale pods swimming together!

We identified them as the 36As and the T101s! The T101s are one of my favorite pods in this whole area! The pod is led by their matriarch, T101, with 3 huge adult male whales following her guidance. It was so fantastic to see their 6-foot-tall dorsal fins piercing the glassy water as they swam alongside the other pod.

We often see pods socializing and interacting with each other!

After a good bit of time watching these beautiful animals swimming in their natural habitat, we headed back down south.

We stopped by Flattop Island and found another bald eagle hiding in the trees! We also found harbor seals poking their heads out of the water, swimming around looking for prey.

Then we headed towards Speiden Island where we found Sika deer grazing among the trees close to the cliffside! Further along the island, we found fallow deer napping with a baby! These foreign deer are not native to Washington but really fun to see on this unique island, also known as “Safari Island.”

Finally, we made it back to Friday Harbor, really happy with a great day full of so much wildlife!