May 9, 2009

A Whale of a Good Time

It was a lovely golden day on our inland waters and our boat load of guests were a real treat. Captain Pete, Ashley and I welcomed a full boat of passengers onto the MV Sea Lion, including a wee mariner just new to this beautiful world. Our destination was soon discovered to be the open waters just North of Patos Island State Marine Park. Another boat operator called out "I've made contact" over the radio waves and we knew that Orcas were soon to be seen. They even happened to be near the area where we had seen them the day before. Captain Pete turned our bow North and we cruised up between Orcas and Waldron Islands looking anxiously towards the horizon.

As we came up to where the other boat companies were starting to gather we saw a group from J pod heading West in a tight formation. The whales were all huddled together coming up for air and giving off a shower of blows. J1 "Ruffles" was again with the group, this time staying towards the rear. There were several juveniles and other males within the pod which numbered approximately 15 individuals. The females were there too and our whole boat got to see the new calf. It was robustly coming up for air next to its mother, showing off its bright orange chin and throat.

The group was not taking the leisurely swim it did yesterday. They were moving much faster this time and after a series of breaths they would then dive as a group for several minutes. There were a few tail slaps from one female and it was not until we were ready to leave that one of the Orcas came up into a spyhop that brought half of its body out of the water. Several of our guests got stunning photos of it. As we motored away we watched more spyhops and tail slaps as the Orcas faded into the distance.

It was a picture perfect day that included not only the Orcas, but Harbor Seals, Harbor Porpoises and a soaring finish by a Bald Eagle that skimmed across San Juan Channel in front of our boat, plucked a fish from the water and then carried it back off into the trees on San Juan Island. Thank you from all of us for choosing San Juan Safaris and we will...

See You In The Islands!
~Tristen, Naturalist

Orca Whales and Wildlife Are Our Only Business. ©