[Sarah M. – 08/02/2017 – M/V Sea Lion – 01:30pm]

Yesterday we had a wonderful trip aboard the M/V Sea Lion from Friday Harbor on our afternoon whale watch. This time of year we sometimes experience smoggy conditions due to wildfires burning around the area. When the wind shifts, even if we do not have fires burning on the islands themselves, sometimes we can see this smoke blown our way. Yesterday, we had these smoky conditions atmospherically, but they did not impact our water conditions or the wildlife sightings.

The Arrival of Autumn Wildlife

In the last couple of weeks we have started to see some of our migratory species making their way back into the area. On yesterday’s whale watch I was pleasantly surprised to see a number of species arriving back to our waters. I spotted both red-necked phalaropes as well as Heermann’s gulls, both species that we expect to see as we get closer to fall. We also had some of our first male Steller’s sea lions arriving back at whale rocks at the south end of San Juan Island. It is always nice to see them back after their summer breeding season in Alaska.

Killer Whales Spotted

We travelled north through Haro Strait along the west side of San Juan Island until we found the T18 family group traveling along the shore line. This tight-knit family group of a grandmother, her daughter, and two grandsons are some of our “usual suspects” for transient killer whales in our waters. T019B is the most notable whale in this family. This massive twenty-two year old bull orca, commonly referred to as Mr. Floppy Fin for the distinct leftward lean in his dorsal fin, is always seen with in his tight-knit family.

We followed the whales for a couple miles, getting several good looks, thanks to Captain Mike’s expert driving skills before leaving the whales to head north around San Juan Island thus completing our circumnavigation of the island. Yet another fantastic day, and I cannot wait to see what today holds!

Steller's sea lion Steller's sea lion Heerman's gull T019B Orca family T18s