[Lauren Fritz, M/V Kestrel, 08/26/17, 10:00 am & 2:00 pm Tour]

Thank goodness for high-powered vessels! M/V Kestrel really pulled through today on our two tours – we were up in Canadian waters, 20-30 miles out of Friday Harbor, for our orca encounters. That’s pretty far! It’s such a treat to be able to cruise around the Canadian Gulf Islands, for the change of scenery and the stunning beauty. Read on for the most exciting parts of our trips today!

On our morning tour, we left the harbor at 10 am, which is right around when the early whale watch trips leave around the Salish Sea. That means we were going into search mode – we were looking for the whales that had been last seen yesterday. Captain Gabe decided to check up north by Saturna Island, where we had left the whales yesterday evening. It seemed as good a place as any to start. And – as fate would have it – Captain Gabe found two pods of Transients zooming around up by East Point! What an exciting day! Being the first boat to find the whales is a cool responsibility; we report the sighting to the rest of the whale watch association, and it means we made everybody’s life a whole lot easier. Plus, we enjoyed several amazing minutes as the sole boat on the scene with these whales. The T36’s and the T37B’s were having a great time socializing. We noticed they were trending in a general northwesterly direction. We were lucky to have such a long viewing period with these whales before we turned around and headed home. Before we got back to Friday Harbor, we swung by Flattop Island to hang out with some harbor seals. It was nice to see some happy “rock sausages” lounging around in the sun.

On our afternoon trip today, we headed back up north to see the same whales – and they were still on the move! We traveled over 60 miles round trip, and we were so lucky to have the chance to see them. We saw some incredibly behaviors – tail slaps, breaches, porpoising, high-speed swimming…the whole kaboodle. I managed to get a few nice shots – check out my favorites below.

All in all, this was one of those days out on the water that makes me grin and dance while I make dinner and brush my teeth. I love my job – it’s so amazing to take out guests to see some of the most incredible animals in the world! Thanks to those of you who joined us on the Kestrel today. We love speed, we love orcas, and together, we hope to create a wonderful whale watching experience for you. Enjoy!

Naturalist Lauren Fritz, San Juan Safaris