I love being the boat to find whales. I love that moment of being able to make the call to the rest of the fleet, and for that singular moment knowing something else that no one else knows.

Today Captain Brian and I left the dock with no reports of orcas, which is not unusual for this time of the year as there are fewer boats out on a daily basis and we are outside of “peak” season. With that being said, I still say that we have a 50-50 shot of seeing killer whales this time of year: We either see them or we don’t. As we traveled north into Boundary Pass between the San Juan Islands and the Canadian Gulf Islands Captain Brian called me into the wheelhouse, “I think we have orcas ahead of us.”

A quick scan of the horizon confirmed his sighting as the jet-black dorsal fins and exhalations of the whales rose from the water. We identified the group of six whales as the T036 family group: T036, T036A, T036A1, T036A2, T036B, & T036B1. While we were with the orcas they did many aerial scans lifting their chins out of the water to have a look around as they surfaced.

After we left the orcas we had reports of a humpback whale in the area, who we found and watched for a while as she lazily cruised south towards San Juan Island. We watched as she surfaced and fluked up, diving. We were also lucky enough to find seals, bald eagles and Dall’s porpoise on our way back to Friday Harbor. Yet another amazing October afternoon in the sunny San Juan Islands!

Naturalist Sarah, M/V Sea Lion, San Juan Safaris