July 7, 2018

Whale Hunt

Captain Mike, Naturalist Alexandria and I were excited to be on the water on this VERY hot summer day. We had not heard of any reports in our area yet this morning, so we were a little anxious leaving the harbor with a full boat of hopeful guests. Some other boats had found a humpback on the West side of San Juan Island, but we were hoping that we would be able to find our own whales, so we headed up North towards the Canadian Gulf Islands. The whole way up the channel, our eyes were glued to our binoculars scanning the waters to see what animals we could spot. The conditions were calm and the water glassy which was helpful in spotting dorsal fins. Well before heading through Boundary Pass we stopped for some harbor seals near Flat Top and re-checked with other boats for any reports on whales with no luck. We crossed Boundary Pass and headed towards Saturna Island already in Canadian waters observing some harbor porpoises come up for breaths on the way. As we rounded the West side of the island, we unexpectedly spotted some black dorsal fins in the distance! What an exciting sight! We had not only found our own whales today, but we were the first boat in the area to have found orca! Before telling any of the other boats where we were, we motored closer to this pod to get a good look at who it was; the T124As. This group of transient killer whales has been hanging around the islands for a couple of weeks and they have a very young calf with them who has been such a pleasure to watch. We were able to observe these guys socializing as they were tail slapping, cartwheeling, and swimming right on top of each other for a while. We stayed with them for a bit until a couple of other boats showed up and we headed North to see if we could find some humpback whales in the Strait of Georgia. Unfortunately, we didn’t get our humpbacks, but we were able to find around 6 bald eagles along with a juvenile and plenty of harbor seals instead. On the way back down the coast of Saturna Island, we encountered the T124As again and observed their behavior, which had switched to a traveling pattern, for some last looks before heading back home down the channel.

Mariana, Naturalist, San Juan Safaris