Captain Brian and I had an awesome day out on our newest vessel M/V Kestrel. The water was flat and the sun was shining AND we had reports of some of our famous, critically endangered Southern Resident Killer Whales in the area. We suited our guests up in our new Mustang Exposure Suits and then headed out.

Brian and I headed out to meet up with some J & L-pod orcas on the west side of San Juan Island. We arrived on scene to very tightly grouped whales about two miles offshore including L22 “Spirit” and her son L89 “Solstice.” We watched as the whales fished and socialized, exhibiting much of the tactile behavior which orcas are known for.

After spending about a half hour with the tightly grouped Ls we pushed further offshore to join up with a group of J-pod whales spread out and foraging. We were delighted to see crowd-favorite J27 “Blackberry,” a full-grown adult male who was born in 1991. This big boy has classic Southern Resident saddle patches on both of his sides, gray with interjected black “fingers.” We watched as he took longer dives hunting for Chinook salmon.

Orcas frequent the waters around San Juan Island

Adult Male Southern Resident Killer Whale

Looking back towards San Juan Island we saw a male and female traveling and foraging near one another… Brian and I looked at each other and headed in the direction. Our gut feeling paid off as we got excellent looks at both L87 “Onyx” and the oldest known killer whale in the world J2 “Granny.” This old lady is estimated to be 105 years old!

105 year old orca

J2 Granny: Sarah McCullagh Photography

On our way back to the harbor we got some excellent looks at bald eagles and some seals. It was an awesome day out on the water, experiencing the Salish Sea!

Adult bald eagle flying

Adult Bald Eagle: Sarah McCullagh Photography

Lead Naturalist Sarah, M/V Kestrel, San Juan Safaris