In my post yesterday, I mentioned how I could not find words to describe how amazing our Orca encounter was. Well, surprisingly everything that I said yesterday can be applied to our afternoon trip today! There was another super pod of killer whales, but we didn’t realize this right away.

We departed Friday Harbor heading north, and did not have to travel far. We caught up with three killer whales just on the north side of Henry Island (48°36.720’N 123° 12.300’W). We watched for a while before seeing blows off in the distance. Three, four more killer whales were in the area. They changed direction, so did we. Then, all of a sudden we saw at least twenty dorsal fins slice through the surface of the water, all less than a body length from each other! We also noticed there was a large group near shore. The sky was full of their misty exhalations. I got to see my second greeting ceremony in two days when the two large groups came towards each other. They seemed to synchronize their surfacing as they lined up. But, as they met I saw something different from yesterday: the whales circled each other once before moving off in the same direction they came from! It was spectacular!

All in all there were at least thirty whales, from all three Southern Resident pods. Again, they were being very active, lob tailing, breaching, and spy hopping. It was difficult to identify individuals since fins and saddle patches were everywhere, but we were able to distinguish J-27 Blackberry, J-14 Samish, L-87 Onyx, L-86 Surprise, and K-21 Cappuccino out of the wave of dorsal fins in the groups. Plus, cheery on the top of the trip was being able to view three bald eagles, soaring in the sky, as well as harbor seals (plus pups!), muflon sheep, and fallow deer.

~Kristen, Naturalist, San Juan Safaris