[Naturalist Sarah – 07/05/2017 – M/V Sea Lion – 01:30pm & 05:30pm]
I walked into the wheelhouse of the M/V Sea Lion, Captain Mike just shook his head, “Can you believe how lucky we’ve been this season?!?”
Honestly, I cannot begin to rationalize the sightings we have had out on the water this summer. We have seen so many orcas, humpback whales, minke whales and other wildlife. Wirth sunny skies, the beautiful San Juan Islands, and active whales our summer could not be going better.
Yesterday, we caught up with some of our local marine mammal eating, Bigg’s killer whales in the north end of Rosario Strait. We were very lucky to find the T036A family group traveling with the traditionally lone male T051. Bigg’s killer whales are socially different than our salmon-eating Resident whales. Bigg’s orcas live in much more of a fluid social structure than the residents, having a male travel by himself is weird for these highly social mammals, but not distressing in terms of his behavior. T051, born in 1981, has recently bee traveling with several different families including the T099s.
On both trips we had amazing looks at this family as they traveled through the Salish Sea. Throughout the day we had the orcas in a tight group socializing and traveling. We loved watching the young juveniles play around their mother, and I particularly loved seeing T051 with the young whales surrounding his huge dorsal fin.
Wildlife-wise we had great encounters with some of the other animals that call the Salish Sea home… everything from bald eagles, harbor seals and harbor porpoise. In addition to wildlife, we had wonderful views of Mt. Baker and the islands. On our second trip we even go to circumnavigate Orcas Island! Yet another beautiful day in the San Juan Islands!