September 6, 2009

Wet & Wildlife!!

Not quite as lucky as yesterday, mother nature's 1st big storm of the fall season came through with strong winds, amazing clouds, and a few sprinkles. The wind kicked up some 5-8 foot seas in the Straits off the south end of San Juan Island...members of J & K pods of Orcas were in this area....a place we could not venture due to these tremendous seas.

With the whereabouts of L pod and any Transient Orcas unknown, we went to calm waters of the north on the lookout for sleek, black dorsal fins. We found many harbor seals on the leeward island shorelines & reefs, hauled out, lazily laying around. Eagles perched in trees or soaring in the breeze. We were fortunate to watch 1 bald eagle swoop down near a seal haul out and steal a little snack....glancing at a blurred photo a guest snapped, it looked like a salmon in the talons of the eagle! (Bald eagles are very opportunistic and will even steal a meal if they can!)

We sped off towards Mosquito Pass, between Roche Harbor & Henry Island as we received word the Resident Orcas had turned around and were heading north in Haro Strait. We were hoping that if the seas were calm enough along the west shore of San Juan we could meet the Orcas....but no....they decided to cross Haro Strait towards Vancouver Island where the swells were far too large.

Turning around we continued in the more protected waters off of Speiden Island. There we found a harbor seal with a freshly caught salmon, and gulls picking for any scraps at the water's surface. Then along the coastline a California Sea Lion swimming along. Many of Speiden's exotic game were out...even a male Mouflon Sheep on the rocky shore eating a washed up piece of bull kelp! Another bald eagle sighting and we turned the corner back for Friday Harbor. And the rain held out till we were back at the dock! Definitely a wild day experiencing the Pacific Northwest!

Keep your fleece & rain jackets handy till Tuesday!
-Jaclyn, naturalist
Orca Whales and Wildlife Are Our Only Business. ©