Lauren Fritz, M/V Kestrel, 07/09/17, 2:00 pm trip

Today on M/V Kestrel, there was an energy of enthusiasm and excitement from the moment we boarded the boat. Our passengers were suited up and ready to go explore the Salish Sea, and Captain Brian and I couldn’t be more thrilled to be out on the water with such amazing conditions. Glassy sea, warm sun and a light breeze? Sounds like the perfect time to head out on a tour!

Transients had been sighted up in Swanson Channel, which means we would be paying our Canadian neighbors a visit. With thumbs up and smiles on faces, Captain Brian turned the corner north out of Friday Harbor and throttled up. The familiar hum of Kestrels dual engines rumbling peacefully in the background is the perfect soundtrack to my day – it means there’s an adventure to be had.

Up San Juan Channel we cruised, and once we’d turned up Spieden Channel, it was time to slow down and check out some of the wildlife. Harbor seals, our adorable “rock sausages,” were hauled out on the shoreline, some dozing happily and others entering or exiting the water in their not-so-graceful but efficient inching technique. Higher up in the trees and skies, several bald eagles could be seen perched and soaring, their magnificent wingspan a source of admiration and appreciation among those of us on board. What incredible creatures! A visit to Spieden is simply not complete without a search for some of the wild deer and sheep species that roam the slopes. Sure enough, after a few moments of scanning, we spotted some fallow deer grazing along the treeline.

We cruised onwards, swinging by Turn Point on Stuart Island to check out more eagles and the light house before continuing on up Swanson Channel. After a few minutes, we spotted some beautiful black dorsal fins! The T37A’s were traveling down the middle of the channel in what appeared to be some mellow, resting behavior. It was a sight to behold. Rhythmic puffs of vaporized water escaped from their blowholes as the warm air from their respiratory tracts met the cooler air of their environment.

The T37A’s are just one matriline of Transients that we see in the area, but they’re one of my favorites. Always a pleasure to be in the company of these amazing creatures. Those of us on Kestrel were stoked, and a little bummed when it was time to head back in to the harbor. Another perfect day on the water!

Lauren Fritz, Naturalist, San Juan Safaris