We’re not kidding when we tell you every day is different in the world of whale watching. People are often surprised to hear that there is no “usual place” to find orcas around the San Juan Islands. Every morning when we wake up, we’re checking the most current reports and hoping that they either stay where they are, or move close enough to us to reach in a 3 to 4 hour trip. In my time working here, I’ve been basically everywhere in that 4-hour radius of San Juan Island to find killer whales. Some days we luck out and they’re sitting off the west coast of San Juan Island moving towards us. Some days, like today, they’re southwest of Victoria and moving slowly, about 3 hours away from Roche Harbor.

Knowing that the only report of killer whales was so far away, our next move was to search the area northwest of San Juan Island for any new sightings, since that area had not been covered yet by another Pacific Whale Watching company. We found little luck there, so we turned around and ventured North around Spieden and Stuart Island to observe some other wildlife, like eagles, seals, and deer. We had just about given up hope on finding orcas today when, on our way back into harbor, we heard of two killer whales just off the west coast of Henry Island. This pair had slipped into the area unnoticed, until they surfaced close enough to another PWW boat to be detected through binoculars. We were in luck!

We watched these two impressive male transient killer whales travel northwest for a while, drawing our whale watch to a miraculous close. Their 6-foot dorsal fins towered over the calm waters as we turned back to Roche Harbor to begin our Fourth of July festivities.

Naturalist Sarah C.

M/V Sea Lion

San Juan Outfitters