I woke up to the pitter-pat of raindrops yesterday. It was a welcome sound, as it has been unseasonably dry and warm here on San Juan Island for the past few weeks, but when I run tours in the rain I always keep my fingers crossed that our guests will be prepared for the rain in waterproof layers. We have a number of very attractive full-length rain slickers available on board the M/V Sea Lion, but guests are usually more comfortable in layers brought from home! The liquid sunshine began to clear as I arrived to the harbor to begin cleaning the boat. By the time I gathered our guests and had them board the boat the day was shaping up to be a bit grey and a bit muggy, but beautiful weather-wise.
With no wildlife reports leaving the dock Captain Brian and I decided that the best course of action would be to leave Friday Harbor and head north hopefully on the trail of some wildlife! We spent some time at Flattop Island looking at the round grey and blond harbor seals hauled out on its shore, and searching the trees for bald eagles. We rounded the island and headed towards Green Point on Spieden Island where we have been seeing lots of Steller’s sea lions both on the rocks as well as grouped up in the water. We watched their antics for a while and then cruised the shore of the island. It was a birder’s paradise! We saw at least 25 bald eagles in both juvenile as well as adult plumage, black oystercatchers, harlequin ducks, rhinoceros auklets, pigeon guillemots, pelagic cormorants and common murres in the space of seven minutes!
We continued away from Spieden heading up and around Stuart Island, when we got the call… Humpback whales in the area! we quickly turned and headed north to the Java Islets just south of Saturna Island, British Columbia where we found two of the gargantuan creatures. Humpback whales are right arough 45 feet long and can weigh over 90,000 pounds! We were treated to a great encounter with one of the whales who is a local favorite, MMY0006 “Windy”.
The waters were flat calm and glassy as we motored back to the harbor… we could see the clods and islands reflected in the surface. I am always impressed and amazed at the diversity of our guests on board; yesterday was no different! I loved getting to know everyone on board and sharing the magical Salish Sea with them!