March 7, 2019

Whales and Wildlife Spotted in the Salish Sea

T046's near Victoria

Sarah | 03/07/2019 | M/V Sea Lion | 12:00pm

Today we had a marvelous day exploring the Salish Sea. The day was full of wildlife and beautiful cloudscapes.

This time of year we often do not have any reports when leaving Friday Harbor, but as we left the mouth of our protected home Captain Mike steered the M/V Sea Lion south towards Cattle Pass. I poked my head in the wheelhouse… a report of orcas near Victoria! This time of year a report is kind of like a rumor until we put our eyes on the animals ourselves. We pointed across Haro Strait and towards Vancouver Island with our fingers and toes crossed.

As we approached Trial Island we started to see blows and dorsal fins from a family of killer whales. As we slowly made our way towards the group we were able to identify the whales as the T046’s, some of our usual suspects when were looking at Bigg’s killer whales. Bigg’s are our marine mammal eating ecotype in the Salish Sea, drawn into our inland waters by our plentiful seals, sea lions and porpoise. We got to watch the orcas weave their way through the small islets and reefs around Discovery Island, before peeling away to look for other wildlife.

Mike and I decided that it would be fun to circumnavigate San Juan Island to search for some other wildlife. We took the M/V Sea Lion up to the north end of San Juan Island towards Sentinel and Spieden islands. Those islands were amazing today! On Sentinel Rocks we got to see so many harbor seals surrounded by gulls and other seabirds. Looking up at Spieden Island the hillside was crawling with the non-native deer and sheep that call the island home. We got to see groups of fallow deer as well as moufalon sheep with their brand new lambs. The sky was full of swooping bald eagles everywhere we looked. As we reached the eastern point of the island, Green Point, we encountered a group of Steller’s sea lions hauled out on the rocks and swimming in the water.

It was an amazing day out in the Salish Sea, I can’t wait for tomorrow!