[Lauren Fritz, M/V Kestrel, 08/31/17, 2:00 pm Tour]

Wow – we made quite an epic journey on our whale watch today! The closest whales reported were out by Race Rocks, which is about 10 miles west of Victoria. This means we were headed out towards the Pacific Ocean, and although we certainly weren’t going quite that far, it means we had some fun swells and waves to surf on the way out. M/V Kestrel offers our adventure tours here at San Juan Safaris, and it’s one of the most fun and exciting ways to see whales out in the Salish Sea. We’ve got some high-powered engines that can really get us places, and today, that definitely came in handy. It’s about 30 miles out to Race Rocks, and it only took us an hour!

Captain Mike was our fearless leader today. He handled Kestrel like a pro as we navigated out of Friday Harbor, down San Juan Channel, and out into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. From here, it was a beautiful journey west out towards Vancouver Island. Past Victoria we flew, keeping our eyes peeled on the horizon for signs of our whale friends. At last we neared Race Rocks, and after a few moments we started to see some blows! A family of transients appeared to be milling about near the shoreline, in no particular hurry. We counted their dorsal fins as they surfaced – five whales. This particular matriline had not been identified yet, and unfortunately the sea conditions were a bit too choppy for me to get any ID photos. That didn’t stop us from getting some remarkable views of their massive bodies as they cruised around in circles – what I like to call the “mill and chill.”

We were in for yet another surprise after we had finished viewing the killer whales. There was a humpback only a half mile away! We were able to watch an entire breath cycle from this huge baleen whales, and to cap it all off, we even got to see a beautiful fluke-up dive. I love humpbacks, and what a treat to see both while we were on our tour today.

Steller and California Sea Lions were happily lounging around on Race Rocks, and Mike made sure to take us by to get some good looks at these pinnipeds. Noisy and smelly, but so much fun to watch! From here, it was back towards home. Another whirlwind adventure on the Salish Sea. Thanks to those of you who joined us – we’d love to see you again, enjoy the photos!

Naturalist Lauren

San Juan Safaris