August 13, 2018

Whale breath for everybody | 8/13/18| 1:30 pm

Leaving the harbor aboard M/V sea lion with captain Pete and naturalist Piper, we were headed East today to check out some transient orcas! Although a bit smokey out, the visibility was good and the sun was still shining. On the bright side, the sunlight through the smoke gives the water a beautiful orange tint making whale sightings even more epic. Headed inter island towards the north side of Cone islands, we were excited to see our summer transient orca residents- the T65As whom have been hanging around our waters all summer! They even have an adorable calf with them who’s thriving and seems very healthy and joyful! 

We crossed over San Juan Channel to take Upright Channel and continue on through Obstruction pass enjoying the views of the inter islands coast line. Crossing over Rosario strait, we ended up squeezing through Sinclair island and cypress island where we encountered some other boats and patiently waited to see any dorsal fins or spouts. Off to our port side and hugging Sinclair’s coast line, were the black dorsal fins cutting through the water!! It never gets old and the excitement among the guests and the crew is contagious! We observed these guys forage the coastline moving towards Rosario strait until they went under for a long dive.. Expecting them to come up farther down the coast, about 7 minutes after their dive they surfaced right next to us; and then again right under us!! I️ mean right under us, their “whale breath” even sprayed on to our deck and some of our guests had misty sunglasses from it! What an amazing encounter this was for all of us! Personally, on of my top 3! Shocked by what had just happened, we couldn’t believe how drastically they had change  directions right towards us. Waiting for them to pass so we could again turn our motor on, we could still see them surfacing off our port side. 


Captain Pete allowed them to get a good distance from us and then again followed parallel to them. We continued to follow them down the channel and were able to see them surfacing plenty, taking short dives and staying at the surface. After about 15 minutes of watching this behavior, we started seeing the orca switch to social behavior- mainly tail slapping. The whales seemed to be coming up to a big bait ball of birds and so we waited for something interesting to happen- and we weren’t disappointed. One of the orca breached right on top of the bait ball! Wow, these guys were just giving us a million dollar show today!

Happy as clams, it was time for all of us to head home. This trip was very special to me and I hope it was for all the guest as well! Thanks for coming out and therefore allowing me to be out at the right place and time!


Mariana, Naturalist, San Juan Safaris