The San Juan Islands are a beautifully diverse environment, boasting warm, sunny summers and boatloads of wildlife (and tourists) that come to enjoy the gorgeous conditions every summer. One of our main goals on our whale watch and wildlife tours is to give our passengers a chance to experience the wide range of biodiversity that we are blessed with every day. Our nutrient-rich waters are teeming with microorganisms that build the base of the food chain, supporting everything from unfathomably large baleen whales to flocks of seabirds the size of your palm. Every day is a completely different experience than the last due to the vast array of possible sightings and the sometimes unpredictable behavior of wild animals.
This morning we left the dock with a few reports of humpback whales perusing the waters around the San Juans and Anacortes. With the enthusiastic approval of our charter of seven southerners we aimed the Kittiwake due East to cut through some of the most beautiful passages in the San Juans en route to a humpback report in Rosario Strait. We made a beeline for the last coordinates, knowing that on any given long dive a humpback could all but vanish from sight. We were lucky enough to arrive on scene to not one, but two gorgeous fifty foot long humpback whales traveling sporadically northwards, fluking out gracefully before taking longer dives and popping up again in an unexpected location. We got some amazing looks at these animals, successfully tracking them for several surfacings, before turning back westward to make our way through Wasp Channel.
The San Juan Islands are made up of over 170 islands, with only four having access to ferry services. Every other island is either too small for a tree to grow on, a national park, a privately owned island, or inhabited by hundreds of adventurous summer residents keen on rustic living. This route back to Friday Harbor gave us envious glimpses at some of these homes, as well as some beautiful untouched northwest scenery. On our voyage home we also stopped to enjoy some beautiful looks at bald eagles and spotted some hauled-out harbor seals, lazing around in the gorgeous sunshine. When we arrived back in Friday Harbor, we still had another 7 hours of sunlight and heat left to enjoy before enjoying another breathtaking Pacific sunset.
Naturalist Sarah C.