It’s never a dull day in the Salish Sea! Today I had the pleasure of embarking on two tours, only half an hour apart from each other, and seeing completely different animals on each one. This is not abnormal here – whales are wild animals and are always in motion. Reports will often change from minute to minute, and no sighting is guaranteed until we actually have our eyes on it! That’s what makes whale watching so exciting!
Our first trip headed due south of San Juan Island, so a series of underwater banks known for their baleen whale activity in the summers. Here, we observed two beautiful humpback whales as they circled over the bank, eating below the surface with every long dive. We watched them fluke out, or raise their tails out of the water, several times before heading back to Friday Harbor.
On our second trip, we left the dock with reports of resident killer whales just off the coast of Victoria. When we first heard this report, they were just a touch too far away for us to motor out there, but half an our later, as we were exiting Cattle Pass, new reports came in that they were cruising towards the west side of San Juan Island at 10 knots. We caught up with them as they reached the shoreline and hopped from whale to whale as we meandered northwards past Lime Kiln Lighthouse. We even observed Onyx, and 25 year old male, playing with a baby harbor porpoise, a rare behavior in our fish-eating resident population! We finished up our trip with a quick stop by Speiden Island to watch some terrestrial wildlife before heading back to Friday Harbor from the north end of the island.
Overall it was a gorgeous day out on the water, jam-packed with variety and exciting animals. No two trips are the same, and today was a perfect example of that! We often encourage guests who are spending more than they day on the island to book multiple trips so that they get the best whale watching experience these islands have to offer!
Naturalist Sarah C.