For the past week we have seen some pretty ugly weather: howling winds reminiscent of January storms, some much needed rain, and choppier-than-normal water. Yesterday was flat calm, almost like a mirror, and there was that distinct bite in the air that is only present when the summer is metamorphosing to autumn.

On the M/V Sea Lion we headed north, winding our way through Yellow and Jones Islands, traveling up through Presidents Channel between the cliffs of Waldron Island and the impressive hills of Orcas Island. As we rounded Patos Island we had an amazing view of the iconic lighthouse on its shore and a stunningly clear look at Mt. Baker over on the mainland.

Mt. Baker and Patos Island Lighthouse

We were fortunate enough to catch up with some Bigg’s killer whales just north of Patos in the Strait of Georgia. Usually when we see these marine mammal-eating killer whales they are in small groups of four to six animals, so as to better to catch their intelligent, acoustically aware prey. Yesterday we had a large social gathering comprised of many families; I counted upwards of twenty whales in the area.

We had excellent looks at the whales as they played and interacted. Pehaps the stars of the day were two individuals known as T065A2 and T065A5, siblings, who were playing back and forth as their mother, T065A, interacted with some of the other mothers on the group, namely T099 and T037A. Other than the T065As, T099s, and the T037s we had the T034s, T019s and T18 all present in the group.

After a great encounter with the killer whales we left the scene and headed to Boiling Reef just off of East Point on Saturna Island where we found numerous species of gulls, surf scoters, cormorants, harbor seals, and even a Steller’s sea lion.

Lead Naturalist Sarah, M/V Sea Lion, San Juan Safaris