What is this Fairytale Life? An Amazing Whale Watch Day on M/V Kestrel

[Lauren Fritz, M/V Kestrel, 09/03/17, 9:30 am & 1:30 pm Tour]

Captain Gabe and I had two tours day, and it was an early start for us today. I love going out in the morning first thing, because it gives us a chance to be the whale spotters for the day and see what’s out there before anyone else. There’s something so peaceful about being on the water with only a few other boats around, glassy smooth water surrounding us and the sun still slowly ascending into the sky. On our 9:30 tour, there had been rumored whales reported up north in the Strait of Georgia, so Captain Gabe expertly navigated us out of Friday Harbor and up San Juan Channel. We made a few stops along the way to check out some beautiful cormorants and harbor seals on White Rock before continuing on our way. On our way past Waldron Island, Captain Gabe suddenly shouted “Whales!” and started pointing excitedly towards the shoreline. We turned our gazes, and the vessel, towards the direction he was indicating, and sure enough, a few blows were billowing up from the surface of the water. Turns out, Captain Gabe had found us not one but two families of transient killer whales out and about in President’s Channel!

We had some amazing time alone with these whales before any vessel arrived on scene. It was a fairytale whale watch for sure, with sweeping views of the mountains on the mainland, the shoreline of Orcas Island, and of course, amazing glimpses of these beautiful stars of the Salish Sea, the killer whales. After snapping a few ID shots, I discovered we were looking at the T99’s and the T36B’s, with a few other whales in the mix that I wasn’t able to identify. After we spent a solid amount of time with these families, Captain Gabe decided to bring us up north a bit to check out the T65A’s, the whales we had originally set out to find. WOW! What a whale of a day – transients galore!

On our second tour today, we were excited to set out and explore the various groups of whales that we already knew were out and about. We cruised up towards Boundary Pass, where the T65A’s were wandering around the Saturna shoreline. I hadn’t yet gotten these close-up glimpses of this Canadian gulf island before, and I was blown away by the beauty. These whales were hungry and on the prowl – we saw them make a few kills and watched as they spy-hopped, tail-slapped, somersaulted, and fed on some plump harbor seals. We even saw them hanging around East Point, checking out some Steller Sea Lions before deciding the effort wasn’t worth it. It was another amazing whale watch. I pinched myself a couple of times to make sure I wasn’t making this day up – we saw so many whales!

Curious to see some transients for yourself? Come out and explore the Salish Sea with us at San Juan Safaris. You won’t be disappointed!

Naturalist Lauren

San Juan Safaris


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