[Naturalist Sarah – 10/31/2017 – M/V Sea Lion – 12:00pm]
On our Halloween trip we had a wonderful day in the San Juan Islands. We started the day by heading north out of Friday Harbor towards Spieden Island. As we cruised through San Juan Channel we marveled at all the beautiful sea birds cruising on the air currents. The fall is an amazing time to visit the San Juan Islands in search of our plentiful avian residents.
Working together with the other whale watching boats on the water gives us the best chances of finding whales. As we rounded the northern end of the island we received a repot of a whale in the middle of Haro Strait traveling east towards San Juan. We promptly turned the boat in that direction, heading south!
We caught glimpses of porpoises as we made our way across the banks towards the reported location of the orca. As we reached Hein Bank were lucky enough to find the lone male T049C. While orcas are usually thought of as highly social creatures, there are some individuals within the Bigg’s killer whale population who travel by themselves. Like all orcas, T049C has a unique dorsal fin-saddle patch combination; the large notch out of the trailing edge of his fin easily identifies this individual.
After a great encounter with the large male orca, we headed to Whale Rocks in Cattle Pass. This rugged outcropping between San Juan Island and Lopez Island, is a well known sea lion haul-out in the fall, winter, and spring. Normally we see just one species of sea lion on the rocks (Steller’s sea lions), but we got to see our other species as well! On the northernmost point of the rock there were some California sea lions stretched out with their larger cousins. I always love to see the comparison between the two species as it highlights truly how massive the Steller’s sea lions can be.
It was an amazing day out on the water; please enjoy some photos from the day!