October Overview: Over the last decade October has been the month for viewing Humpback whales in the islands. It seems to get better every year as the whales become more numerous and closer proximity to Anacortes. In October the Island Explorer II saw two new Orca Calfs (possibly more to come this winter), Minke whales, and more Humpbacks than we've seen in the last three Octobers combined. The Stellar Sea Lions are back for the winter and fall is here in the San Juans. The only negative side to October is that it marks the end of our whale watching season.
We're already excited about the return of our Gray whales in March of 2005! Thanks to all of our guests who made the 2004 whale watching season the best ever! See you again next year.
Monday - Sunday, September 20th - 27th: All three pods continue to travel together. We have had orcas on every tour this week and on some tours have been lucky enough to see all 83 Orcas. There have also been Humpbacks, Minke whales, and Transient Orcas in the area. A report of Pacific White - Sided dolphins was made one day this last week - a rare but exciting sighting. Pacific White - Sides come all the way out of the water and are much more athletic than the more commonly seen Dall's Porpoises. Three times this week we have had Orcas within ten minutes of our dock. They have been traveling in their circular pattern around the islands and have somewhat predictable every day. The whales have continued to be very playful. All of the trips this week have been exceptional Fall whale watching tours and we expect this to continue through October.
Sunday, September 19th: Although we haven't had the best weather this month, our orca sightings have been awesome! It's been another great week of whale watching as all three pods have been hanging out together on most days. Here's a report from our naturalist Shelby from one day last week: Absolutely amazing show today - one of the best of the year! Crazy vocalizations, right away a huge group of females & juveniles swam right under us - close breaching and fabulous whale chatter. We moved once during the day and were constantly surrounded by whales. Ruffles & Gaia were swimming in tandem, three close passes by Lummi, followed shortly after by some mating action. One youngster did a backwards summersault alongside the boat, wagged its tail in the air and then tipped over and came up belly first. Got a nice look at Ruffles with the L-2's - Luna's mom & younger sibling splashing around off the stern. Really incredible day, 2 hours with the whales and only a handful of boats. Hooray September! Also this week we have sighted Elephant seals, transient orcas, fantastic seabird encounters, and much more. Many of our frequent floater card holders and season's pass holders know that this time of year is best!
Monday, September 13, 2004: It has been another fantastic week of Whale Watching in the San Juans. We have had some of the best trips all year this week. All three pods have been traveling together and been very social with each other as well as the boats. There appears to be plenty of food for the Whales as this picture of Faith (L-57) shows. If you look closely, he has a large Chinook Salmon in his mouth showing it off for our guests aboard the Island Explorer II. We have also had Minke Whales on most trips and there has been quite a few Transient Orcas in the area as well. The Steller Sea Lions are back and the fall birds have been fantastic. We are running trips every day at 11:00 a.m. throughout September and we expect great trips throughout September and October. The Whales don't care about the weather and the Island Explorer II is perfect for Fall Whale Watching and Wildlife Tours. Some of the smaller vessels are envious of our heated viewing areas and our covered upper viewing deck The trees are changing color, the kids are back in school and the Seahawks won their first game, which means Fall is in the air. Many locals have figured out over the years that this is one of the best times for Watching Orcas in the San Juans.
Thanks to CYBOROB, a passenger on the Island Explorer II on September 7, 2004 for these great photos!!
Faith (L-57) Showing off his catch!
Female Orca Testing Effect of Gravity
Bald Eagle in flight at South Lopez Island
Wednesday, September 8, 2004: Resident Orcas, Transient Orcas, Grays, Minkes, and Humpback - we've had it all this week! We've also sighted elephant seals, pelicans, and puffins just to remind us that September whale watching is here and anything is possible this time of year. Yesterday, Captain Jeremy (an 8-year seasoned veteran whale watch captain) reported something he's never seen before. Faith (L-57), a large male orca, brought a 20+ lb. Chinook Salmon up to the boat, showing it off to our passengers! This was the finale to an already perfect whale watching experience. We had flat calm water, sunshine, and 83 orca whales in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Monday we were lucky enough to find two Humpbacks and a Minke whale. Sunday Captain Shane reported the best Minke whale experience of his 12 year whale watching career out near Hein Bank. The Island Explorer II was shut down sitting in flat calm water watching a Minke whale feed amongst the birds. The whale disappeared for about 5 minutes on a deep dive. When it surfaced for the first time it was within 10 feet of our boat! The whale then turned and went under the boat, surfacing ten feet away on the other side - then proceeded to swim the length of the boat, around the bow, and down the other side while looking at our passengers the entire time!! This behavior is rare for even an orca, and unheard of for a minke whale. Saturday most of the boats stayed in the inner islands looking at seals. The Island Explorer II headed out in the straits to battle the wind in hopes of whales. This was the type of day that reminds us that it's not Sea World out here, and every day that we see whales is a gift. We didn't see whales due to weather but had a great trip regardless and all of our passengers received a voucher to come again for free another day - that's our deal. The whale watching season runs through the end of October and we expect many more great days this fall. Make your plans and get out here!
Friday, September 3, 2004: It has been another great week of Whale Watching! On Tuesday, August 31, we saw over 80 Orcas--all three Pods of the Southern Residents--plus a Minke Whale on our way home. On the first day of September, we also had spectacular Whale Watching with lots of close encounters and socialization. The Sea Lions are back for the fall season, and we are seeing them consistently nearly every trip. On Thursday, we had all three pods again on the west shore of San Juan Island, although in the morning at 6:30 a.m., J Pod passed within a mile of our dock in Rosario Straits. Today we had some choices to make as we left the dock. The large group of Whales was west of Race Rocks. Their direction was unknown. We call these Sommer Whales, because some are moving East and some are moving West. With an outgoing tide, we had to assume that they were going to continue in the westerly direction, which would have made a long boat ride and very little Whale Watching (Although we would have gotten there if we decided that was the best thing for the day.) We also had one of the first Humpbacks of the fall season three miles east of Race Rocks. This was our second choice. The Humpback got upstaged by a group of Transient Orcas on the inside of Whidbey Island near Penn Cove. This was a risky game to play, because there would be no other boats on scene, that we knew of, to help us look for these, at times, illusive Whales. Transient Orcas are the race of Orca that feed on Seals, Sea Lions, Porpoises, and yes, other Whales. It is very unique for us to see Transients, so we headed south through Deception Pass and down Saratoga Passage. Captain Matt just called the store informing us that he had found them and was on scene. More details to follow regarding their feeding behavior today.
Monday, August 30, 2004: Yesterday we had all three pods in front of Victoria!! Today proved to be an encore for seeing Orca Whales. What a gorgeous day!! Sunny skies and calm water are the backdrop for another great Whale Watching experience on the Island Explorer II. Early in the trip, L-12s were at the south end of Lopez. About 2:30 p.m. the Whales were approaching Bird Rocks. Then two miles from the dock, on the way to Deception Pass, Captain Jeremy was greeted by a Minke Whale.We could not have ordered a more exciting day!!
Thursday, August 26, 2004: Transient Orcas, Resident Orcas and Minke Whales this week!! Yesterday morning's trip actually saw all three in one trip. The large group of Resident Orcas (J, K and most of L Pod) are still traveling together. We saw more Minke Whales this week than we have in the past three, partly due to our route choice around the south end of Lopez Island. Its hard to believe its the end of August, especially looking out the window this week with all the rain. If anyone is wondering how Whale Watching is in the rain, check out video clip #2 on the Whale Watch page. Fortunately , it looks like the sun is back. The Whales never left and we have another 60 days of quality Whale Watching is front of us.
Sunday, August 22, 2004: The Whales are right in front of Anacortes this morning. Our first call came from Darryl Stacey of Eagle Point Salmon Charters, of Whales in Rosario Straits. Our second call came from Catchmore Charters, another Salmon Fishing Guide, of the Whales one mile south of Darryl's sighting. One hour later the Island Express gave us a call with Whales one mile south of Catchmore Charters. It's nice to know they can't get past us, even at 7:00 o'clock in the morning!! Looks like today is going to be great day. It is partly sunny and the Whales are close to home.
Saturday was the most unusual day of weather any of our crew has ever seen in August. We had more rain than the rest of the summer combined. We also saw lots of Whales and had great tours both at 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. The morning trip had to run nearly to the Fraser River to see Whales. In the afternoon, L Pod was on the west shore of Orcas Island making the evening trip a bit easier. We saw spy-hops, breaches, and cartwheels. We left the Whales at the north end of San Juan Island, traveling south at approximately 7:45 p.m.
We have had great Whale Watching all week. The trees are starting to turn colors and we have seen the first Steller Sea Lion of the season at Whale Rocks. This means Fall is on the way, so if you are just reading this Whale Report and thinking about watching Whales---ITS TIME!! Whale Watching will be good through October, but the weather in late August and the first three weeks of September make for fantastic trips. There are less people on the water and plenty of Whales. We will see you on the boat soon!!
The following photos were taken July 27, 2004 by JK, a passenger on the Island Explorer II Whale Watching Boat!!! Check them out!!!! Awesome!!!
Monday, August 16th: Sunday evening we left the Whales at 8:30 p.m. less than three miles from our dock. It was a spectacular sunset with 70 plus Orca Whales. The Island Explorer II was the only Whale Watching boat present. It was a spectacular show and one of the best all season. Monday morning the Whales we left Sunday night were on the west shore of San Juan Islands heading north. We caught up with them near Turn Point on Stuart Island. It was the same super pod we were with the night before. On the way home the L12 subgroup turned around and started heading south as the rest of the Whales headed north into the Canadian Gulf Islands. This is good for two reasons. Our evening trip also had Whales very close to home and a great tour. The other group historically will go to the Fraser River then head south past Anacortes in the morning. So today we will be looking for Whales back in Rosario Straits. After the great tours we have had this summer it is hard to believe that the Whale Watching just keeps getting better! The second half of August and throughout September is one of the best times to watch Whales in the San Juans. They are often traveling in large groups and have plenty of food, making them very social. Stay tuned for more fantastic reports from the Island Explorer II!!
Saturday, August 14th: Today the Whales could not have been in a better location. There were Transient Orcas off Race Rocks to keep the Canadian boats busy. The L12s and 25s were off the south end of San Juan Islands, which kept the island boats busy and our boat had 70 Whales all to ourselves in the Straits of Georgia. There were members of all three pods heading south towards Anacortes. We had seals, eagles and porpoises on the way to the Whales. We spent approximately two hours with the Whales and had enough time to enjoy the east shore of Cypress Island on the way back to the harbor. The afternoon trip headed down toward Deception Pass to see the bridge and search for other wildlife in the first half of the tour. The Whales are currently only three miles from our marina. The water is calm. It is warm and sunny and it looks like we'll have a great Sunset with the Whales this evening!!! We have also had Orca Whales on every trip since August 8th. All three pods have been together on most days, which is very typical of August and September. There appears to be plenty of fish in Rosario Straits and up toward the Fraser River, so the Whales have been spending plenty of time near Anacortes. They have been very social, and we have been seeing many breeches, spy hops, cartwheels and they really seem to be enjoying the summer. I know we are! One of our naturalists, Bart Rulon, thinks he got the perfect breech on film today. He is a professional photographer as well as naturalist and when he says he got a great shot, I can't wait to see it. We will be running the Sunset Cruise until August 28, 2004, so if you are thinking about a sunset with the Whales, make reservations soon. August 30, 2004 we go back to our one trip a day schedule due to the shorter days. September is a fantastic month for Whale Watching as well. There is still plenty of summer left and lots of Whales to be seen.
Sunday, August 8th: Since July 29th we have had great Whale Watching in the San Juan Islands. We have seen Resident Orcas, Transient Orcas and Minke Whales, as well as plenty of other wildlife. The Minke Whales have held their traditional August behavior with lots of lunge feeding, and last night one actually breeched in front of the boat. We did miss Whales on a couple trips since July 29th, if you are keeping score. This is a constant reminder to us that this is not Sea World and every day we see Whales is special. We had all three pods yesterday morning--85 individual Orca Whales on flat calm water and sunshine. This morning as we were heading out, we have a report of L-12s along San Juan Island and a Minke at Lawson Reef. It looks like its going to be another great trip. There is another group of Whales up toward the Fraser River headed South. We will be keeping track of their progress during the day. We may go North this afternoon. The extended weather forecast looks great and the extended Whale forecast is even better. We expect to see Orcas on most of our trips through the end of September and into October. We look forward to seeing you on the boat!!
Thursday, July 29th: Another great day of Whale Watching in the San Juans today. We left the dock at 10:00 a.m. with choices on which Whales we wanted to see today. We had a group of Ls off of San Juan Island and another group of Orcas up north toward Point Roberts. We started heading north, but after receiving a weather report from the Straits of Georgia of windy conditions, we altered our course toward the southern Whales. The L-12s are one of our favorite groups of Whales. L-41 is a large male and has been quite social lately. We had some great looks today. We also got to see a lot of the inner islands and other wildlife along the way.
Wednesday, July 28th: We had Orcas on both trips today in the Straits of Juan de Fuca. In the morning Captain Matt spent a little extra time than he normally would have looking for that magical pass. He got it just north of Lime Kiln Lighthouse. The Island Explorer II was completely shut down as the Whales passed very close to the boat. Everyone on the boat wondered who was watching whom. On the evening trip Captain Jeremy found Whales on the south end of the San Juan Islands. He also got some great looks and had one breech very close to the boat. They also had a great sunset on the way home, which rounded out another great day of Whale Watching in the San Juans.
Tuesday, July 27th: This was one of the best Whale trips of the year to date. Whale Watching is like the lottery. You never know which Whales you are going to see or where they will be or what they will be doing. This morning was a winner!! We had all three pods of Whales very close to our dock. We had breaches, lobtails, spy hops and everything else that Orcas do in one trip. We spent more time with the Whales than any other trip so far this year. If any of our guests were not happy at the end of the trip, I would advise them to check their pulse to make sure they are still with us! This was the Whale Watching trip on the brochure times 10!!!!!!!!!!
Monday, July 26th: We have a great Whale Report this morning from Eagle Point Charters who is currently fishing salmon on the west shore of San Juan Island. Darryl says there are lots of Whales also fishing where he is, so it looks like it is going to be another great day. Last night we picked up all three pods of Orcas four miles south of Victoria heading towards San Juan. It was as good a Whale show as anyone could ever expect. Lots of Whales. Very few boats, and an amazing sunset on the way home. On the morning trip Captain Shane described one of the best Minke shows he has seen in the past ten years. Again, no boats, calm water and very active Minkes. There was a mother and a sub-adult who appeared to be traveling together, which is unusual for Minkes. We had one of the Whales swallow an entire ball of bait fish within twenty feet of the bow of the boat, and for once every one had their cameras pointed in the right direction.
The synopsis for the last week has been world-class Whale Watching. Sorry we couldn't give a day-to-day report because we have been busy watching Whales. On Friday evening's trip, Bart Rulon, who is a very experienced naturalist on the Island Explorer II and also an exceptional photographer, described one of his best evenings of Whale Watching. We saw all three pods of Whales spread out over three miles. It was glass calm water and the light was perfect for photography. He added some great shots to his portfolio. All three pods have been traveling together a lot this week, often times heading up toward the Fraser River in the evening traveling past Anacortes mid-morning and visiting the west side of San Juan in the afternoon. These Whales cover up to a hundred miles in a 24 hour period, which makes them at times challenging to keep track of, but this has been a very traditional and historic travel pattern. It looks like there is plenty of fish and the Whales seem to be very happy. We have also been visiting Deception Pass a lot lately where we have been seeing lots of Eagles, Seals, and Seabirds. The Spiny Dogfish or Sand Sharks are still underneath nearly every bait ball in the Straits of Juan de Fuca. We have been seeing lots of Harbor Porpoises on every trip. The weather has been great and if you are thinking about a Whale Watching Trip, make your reservation now. It just doesn't get any better than what we have had in the past two weeks, and it should continue all the way through September.
Monday, July 19th: An early call from Captain Shane reported that he and our guests on the Island Explorer II enjoyed seeing members of L Pod at the South end of San Juan Island near False Bay. A great beginning for the morning Whale Watching Cruise on a bright, sunny day!!.
Sunday, July 18th: Although Captain Jeremy reported "one of the best aerial display of the season" on the morning trip, he changed his morning report to read "the Best aerial display of the season" after returning from the evening trip. He and our guests on the Island Explorer II experienced an aerial display by the Whales that was described as "Awesome!!!" and "Almost Unreal!!!" For nearly ten minutes there were four or five Whales in the air, constantly breeching and cartwheeling. They seemed as happy to see us as we were to see them. A great example of the bond between man and nature!! We've said it before and this evening's trip just proves that Whale Watching with Island Adventure Cruises Just Keeps Getting Better!!!
Sunday, July 18th: The Island Explorer II found a large group of Orcas within two miles of our dock this morning. We are assuming it was J Pod, K Pod and part of L Pod together. The rest of L Pod happens to be at Church Rock going west on this fine Sunday morning. Captain Jeremy just called from the boat to report one of the best aerial displays of the season. Lots of breeches very close to the boat, spy-hopping, lob-tailing and cartwheels. Happy Whales make for Happy Guests!!! Sorry it has been a week since our last report, but it has been the best week of Whale Watching all year. Great weather and we have had Orcas on every trip. We have also seen Minke Whales, Bald Eagles, River Otters, Coyotes, Harbor Seals with babies, plenty of seabirds and much more. The Sand Sharks are starting to show up underneath the large rafts of birds. Watching the food chain in action is a great bonus to any Whale Watching Tour. In these feeding frenzies, we also often see Harbor Seals and sometimes Salmon. We expect great Whale Watching through the end of September. We'll try to get more day-to-day details into the report this week for your reading pleasure. If you ever have questions on what the Whales are doing, don't hesitate to call the store.
Tuesday, July 13th: Beautiful blue skies, calm flat water and 70 degree weather were the backdrop for another successful Whale Watching Cruise today. Early in the day, Captain Shane and our guests on the Island Explorer II enjoyed seeing members of L Pod and a small group of K Pod off the South end of Lopez Island. L Pod is the largest of the three pods , with 40 plus members. The elusive Luna is a member of this Pod. Office personnel had an unexpected treat when the Whale Vocalizing was transmitted back to us via the Hydro phone on the Island Explorer II. During our two hours with the Whales, they treated us with close passes, breeching, and cartwheels. Our guests on the morning cruise had a great opportunity to get some super photos of Deception Pass. We are looking forward to seeing all three pods on our evening trip. Stay tuned!!
Thursday, July 8th: Late in the day today we got word of K Pod near the Fraser River Southbound. It looks like we will have K Pod tomorrow. This is as late as K Pod has returned in recent years, but it looks like we will have over 80 Orcas in the San Juan Islands tomorrow and for the rest of the summer. Welcome Home K Pod!!! By the way, our vessel had a great show with J Pod today with very powerful speed swimming behaviors as they headed north to meet up with K Pod.
Thursday, July 8th: This morning we had a choice of two groups of Whales in our area. J Pod was up near Vancouver heading South, and L Pod was out at Victoria heading west. I like it when the Whales are a little bit further away so we get to see more islands and wildlife along the way. We chose to head North in pursuit of J Pod. The boat is en route currently. Stay tuned for a report from today. We have had Orcas on every trip this week and the great Whale Watching just seems to continue!
Wednesday, July 7th: On our morning trip, we were lucky enough to see J Pod and L Pod milling slowly at the south end of the San Juan Islands. The Whales serenaded us with nice vocalizing, as well as with their acrobatic talents! The afternoon trip took us through the inner San Juan Islands. We spotted Dall Porpoises near Spieden Island. J Pod and L Pod were on the west side of San Juan Island. What a great Whale show to end the day!!
Sunday, July 4th: The Fourth of July Jinx is over!!! For the last three years we have held over 95% success rate seeing Whales, but have managed to miss Whales three years in a row on the Fourth of July. Today that streak came to an end and our odds of seeing Orcas on the Fourth of July for the next 90 years are nearly 100%. It was J Pod today who put on a great show with lots of close passes, spy-hops and feeding behavior. They were between Salmon Bank and Hein Bank which is a very easy run for the Island Explorer II. We had lots of luxury time today for a nice island tour in addition to a fantastic Whale Watching Trip!
Saturday, July 3rd: We had three Whale Watching Trips today, which all saw Orcas. In the morning they were near Point Roberts in the Straits of Georgia and continued to work their way south all day. On our last trip, we left the Whales near Lummi Island with a spectacular aerial display of breeching, cartwheeling and spy-hopping that was as good as anything we've seen all year.
Friday, July 2nd: We had choices this morning on which way to go. Two groups of Whales in the area. J Pod was in Boundary Pass. L Pod was in front of Victoria, eastbound. We decided to go west and look at the Ls in the morning, picking them up at the south end of San Juan Island. In the afternoon, the Whales had traveled north and hooked up with J Pod where we had both groups together near the North end of San Juan Island. We spent most of our time with L Pod again on the second trip because they seemed to be more active than Js today. As we turned back to the south, we were the only boat with the Whales and our guests had an amazing Whale Watching experience. It's a rare day in July to have the Whales all to yourself! We had a wonderful sunset on the way home as we often do on our 4 p.m. trips. It looks like summer is here to stay for the next 70 days. The Whale report is great but is nothing like seeing them in person. We will see you on the boat soon!!
Captain Matt asked our guests to write a poem about their Whale Watching Trip today. Here are some of the responses:
"1. Birds flying 'round us
2. But we had to leave, phooey
3. I hope to come back"
.........Sagarika Arogyaswang, 4th Grade
"Havenley Father full of grace. Bless this Orca's smileing face. Keep his fin so big and strong. But keep them here where they belong." .....Fawn Johnson
"Blue waters, Waves sparkling,
Sun, sky, Green Pine, Nature's glory.
Orcas dance and dive--tails high." .....Mari Hampton
"Shp bouncing softly,
rca fins spotted astern
I have met my quest." .....Carol Schweinhart
"Orcas, islands, deer,
We're glad that we're here
Near the beauty dear." .....Jan Griffith
Orca's triumphant return
Harmony restored." .....John
"High hopes leaving shore
Captain gives us so much more
Orca fins galore!" .....Judy Shaw
"The Straits rising tide
Moved the whales near the boat side
Who's size showed great pride." .....Shirley W. Roberson
"Sages of the sea
Awaken wonder within
As you sleep in peace" .....Jenny M.
Thursday, July 1st: On our cruise today we were able to enjoy a comfortable, scenic tour through the Islands to and from the Whales. Whales were reported this morning off Victoria with inclement weather conditions. L Pod was reported heading west as J Pod was heading east toward the San Juan Islands. We cruised through the inner islands and picked up J Pod at Open Bay and followed them north for a while. We once again enjoyed a scenic and calm route avoiding the rough weather that was out in the Straits.
Wednesday, June 30th: At the beginning of our tour, en route to the Orca Whales, we saw a Minke Whale just off thesSouth end of Lopez. Soon after that, we had J and L Pod off the south end of San Juan Island milling around all day. At different times during the day the Whales exhibited different behaviors. During the evening trip, especially, we were very fortunate to observe lots of close encounters and aerial displays--breaching and spy hopping. Also, during our last pass of the evening, we put our hydro phone down in the water and had non-stop Orca Whale vocalization. Due to the Whales' close proximity to our dock, after spending quite a bit of time with them, we used some luxury time to view the historic Deception Pass Bridge. Great day, even though the Straits were a little bumpy.
Tuesday, June 29th: Fog in the Straits of Juan de Fuca, but we had a report of Whales over toward Victoria. We headed that direction and found L Pod in the clear of Constant Bank and followed them towards San Juan Island where they were once again lost in the fog. The Whales then apparently in the fog headed east towards Rosario Strait. We saw L Pod again on our evening trip about ten minutes from our dock just off Allan Island. We followed them for about 5 miles to the north where L Pod then turned around off Tide Point and followed us back to our marina, dropping them off once again about 10 minutes from our dock. Fantastic evening. Saw everything that Whales can possibly do--lots of spy-hopping, breeching and tail lobbing.
Monday, June 28th: J Pod was reported this morning off San Juan Island traveling north. The Island Explorer II got on scene with the Whales shortly after 12:00 just off Battleship Island and followed the Whales up to Turn Point and then cruised back to Skyline Marina through the inner islands. Unfortunately on our 4:00 p.m. trip, the Whales we had been traveling with earlier had continued north at a fast pace, putting themselves out of our range. Our tour took us south into the Straits of Juan de Fuca hoping to possibly locate Minkes or other Whales. The water had some white caps on them, which made it difficult to locate any Whales. However, we did have a great wildlife site seeing cruise with lots of Harbor Seals, Eagles, other species of birds and a cruise by Deception Pass Bridge. We handed out fluke passes to everyone on board encouraging them to come again.
Sunday, June 27th: J Pod was reported off east point of Saturna, Westbound in Boundary Pass. Anticipating the Whales' usual speed, we went south in the Straits to catch the Whales just off the north end of San Juan Island. While we were on scene, the Whales were traveling at a relatively slow pace in their family group in close proximity of one another. We had several good looks at these Whales and then enjoyed a wonderful wildlife cruise back through the inner portion of the San Juans.
Saturday, June 26th: We ran three Whale Watching Trips today--a 9:00 a.m., a 10:00 a.m., and a 4:00 p.m. and saw Whales on every tour. We had L Pod today on the south end of San Juan Island. This is easy duty. Lots of Whale time, sunshine and calm water. We also had time to search out other Wildlife along the way. We have been seeing Eagles, Seals and Porpoises on most of our trips in addition to Orcas. This is the best time all year, historically, to see Whales--now through the end of September. I am awfully glad when history continues to repeat itself every day.
Friday, June 25th: We had two pods to choose from this morning--L Pod out West and J Pod coming down from the North. We choose to go west because of flat water, more Whales and less boats. We picked L Pod up near Race Rocks, west of Victoria. We were the only American boat on scene and had a fantastic encounter with the Whales. On the afternoon trip L Pod and J Pod found each other before we found them, so when we arrived on scene four miles south of San Juan Island, we had 50 Orcas to look at. This is a repeat from one day last week-- one of the most spectacular evenings of the year. Great sunset. Lots of active Whales!!
Thursday, June 24th: Here is a little more from yesterday's trips. The Gray Whale we saw in the morning near Anacortes was the most active and social Gray Whale we have ever seen in this area. It was a juvenile, we are guessing about 20 feet long, at an odd time of year. These Whales should be either in Alaska or points north of us this time of year, so it was an unexpected treat to have a Gray Whale on June 23rd. What made it spectacular was the spy hopping and breaching that we witnessed. We did get some identification photos so hopefully we will find out who this Whale is and where he has been in the past. We also had a great look at J Pod in Boundary Pass. They made an unexpected turn and did not come past Anacortes as they have been doing recently. It was a great trip and we saw lots of islands along the way, and I am sure everyone had a wonderful trip!! The evening trip also had a great tour. They picked up the Whales at the south end of San Juan. There was a light wind out of the west. The Whales were fairly spread out, but very active as they often times are at sunset. The folks that came into the store after the tour were raving about Captain Jeremy and his crew as well as the Whales. TODAY the Whales are at the north end of San Juan which will make for another great trip. Stay tuned for today's report very soon!!
Wednesday, June 23rd: The first report of Whales this morning was at Point Roberts southbound. Normally they will continue south passing very close to Anacortes later in the day. We were on our way toward J Pod when we got a report of a GrayWhale off Cap Sante in Anacortes. We quickly altered our course. This may be the last Gray Whale of the year and we weren't about to miss it. We will attempt to get some photo identification shots to pass on to the scientific community to find out exactly who this Whale is. The boat is with the Gray Whale at this time, 11:20 a.m., then we will continue up toward the Orcas. It looks like a double-header today!! I counted this evenings trip in our success record already because I know it is going to be a great trip. If you read this report in time to be here in time for the 4:00 p.m. trip, we have plenty of room and it is set to be a really good one. Whales very close to Anacortes. A great sunset and a half-full boat. A half-full boat is rare when Whale Watching is this good. We have also been seeing lots of fish in the water this week and the Whales seem to be as happy as I've ever seen them.
Tuesday, June 22nd: This morning started off with lots of fog. We figured after yesterday's superpod, we should have Whales on the west shore of San Juan Island, so we headed south with no Whale information. At Salmon Bank, south end of San Juan Island, we got a report of J Pod moving north at the north end of San Juan Island and L Pod moving west at Race Rocks, so we continued north to spend the afternoon with J Pod. We had a great look then returned through the inner islands where it was warm and comfortable. In the afternoon trip J Pod had continued north and were all the way at the Fraser River. Our guests were happy they were on the Island Explorer II. This boat is fast, comfortable and has the best range in the Whale Watching fleet. We were the only boat with the Whales when we left them at Roberts Bank in front of the Vancouver International Airport. Our track record is still in tact and we have completed another great day of Whale Watching!!
Monday, June 21st: Another great day with Whales! It started off with a false report in the Straits of Georgia, but turned into be Harbor Porpoises or a figment of a sport boater's imagination. We deal with this from time to time, but we got a report of J Pod southbound in Haro Strait at 11:00 a.m., which changed our course. This false report was actually a blessing in disguise, making the first part of the morning trip a fantastic island tour. We caught up with J Pod (22 Orcas) off Eagle Point on San Juan Island. We had some great looks and it turned into a very good Whale Watching trip. We knew of L Pod coming in past Victoria and it was set up perfectly for the evening trip. The 4:00 p.m trip headed back toward Hind Bank where J Pod and L Pod were engaged in a greeting ceremony. Although L Pod has been around for the last couple weeks, this was our first greeting ceremony with super pod type behavior. This means promiscuism by some of the mature males, lots of social activity by the kids and the older females just seem proud to be a part of the party. We were with the Whales for two hours and had another amazing Whale Watching experience. It is amazing what you can get used to!! Today is more evidence that Anacortes is the best place in the world to view Orca Whales in the wild!!
Sunday, June 20th: Happy Fathers' Day!! Our morning trip today saw J Pod on the west shore of San Juan Island. It was calm and sunny and we had some very close passes with the Whales. We ended up at the north end of San Juan allowing us to come home through the Inner Islands. In a 65 mile round trip, the only time we saw the same water was entering back into the marina on the way home. Our crew gave the trip an A+ and they can be pretty picky. In the afternoon, the Whales continued north up through the Canadian Gulf Islands and through Active Pass. They were headed for the Fraser River, which can make it a bit challenging for most companies. Captain Jeremy was on a mission. He has not missed Orcas yet this year and this evening he caught up with the Whales up in the Straits of Georgia between Active Pass and the Fraser River. He was the only boat on scene, had great breaches, spy hops, close encounters and the light for photography was perfect, as it often is on our 4 P.M. tours. When the Whales are up north in the evening and we have large tide cycles in the morning, it often means they will be right in front of Anacortes the next day. We are looking forward to another great trip!! Stay tuned!!
Saturday, June 19th: We got L Pod this morning off the west side of San Juan moving off shore, just like they did yesterday. If people were on the boat both days, they would have thought the Whales had never left, but actually they had covered 100 miles in this 24 hour period. J Pod was at Point Roberts this morning traveling south, and our plan is to go look at Js this evening. We will run two trips today, look at different Whales on each trip in different sections of the islands, proving there is no two trips the same, even on the same day. GREAT WHALES - GREAT WEATHER. Looks like summer is here to stay. Stay tuned for the report from our evening trip very soon.
Friday, June 18th - 7:00 a.m. - WE GOT WHALES!! L Pod came in last night off the Straits of Juan de Fuca and are currently milling off the south end of San Juan Island. This is going to be a great day--flat calm water, sunshine and lots of Whales. We have two trips departing today at 11:00 a.m., which will both be full of very happy customers. We will also be looking for J Pod who, if history repeats itself, should be in Rosario Straits mid-day today. We will let you know how the day turned out at the end of the day, but it looks like we are back to business as usual--the World's Best Whale Watching Tour!!
Friday, June 18th - 3:00 p.m. - Just talked to the boat and they are on their way in from the BEST WHALE WATCHING TRIP OF THE YEAR according to Captain Matt!! We picked up the Whales offshore near Hind Bank, which is a very easy run from our dock. It was glass calm water and sunshine. Our first pass was the second best pass of the year with breaches, cartwheels, lobtailing, spy hopping and more. WE GOT IT ALL!! The best pass of the year came at the end of the trip for our finale. The Whales started to breach again, except at the same time, they were circling the boat as we were stopped dead in the water!! Our guests that were on the boat yesterday saw first hand that there are no two trips the same.
Thursday, June 17th: At Island Adventures we are so proud of our Whale Siting success rate that we even tell you when we don't see Whales. Today was a very rare day. J Pod was near Point Roberts in the morning, headed south, and we thought our day would be easy. Their normal pattern would have brought them right past Anacortes. When we were half way into our trip and committed on our northerly route, the Whales turned and headed back to the north approaching the Fraser River 2:40 p.m., putting them out of range for all of the American Whale Watching Companies today. We thought about continuing north anyway and just being late today, but when we got the weather report from the Straits of Georgia where the Whales were, we decided it was in the best interest of our guests to turn back and look for a possible Transient Orca or Minke Whale on the way home. We also got to see Eagles, Seals, Harbor Porpoises and lots of birds on a sunny calm day in the San Juan Islands. The best part of today for our guests is they all get to come again for free for life until they see Whales. Tomorrow J Pod will be closer as they are as far north as they go this time of year. We will also be looking for K Pod and L Pod, who are due any day. Stay tuned for more reports. We will get them tomorrow!
Wednesday, June 16th: We picked up the Whales today out in front of Victoria in the Straits of Juan de Fuca moving slowly Eastbound. They were taking an afternoon nap. When Orcas sleep, it is called "logging." The entire group is very close together, and they hold a very rhythmic breathing pattern. This makes them very predictable for photographers, both amateur and professional. It is not uncommon to get all 22 members of J Pod in one picture when we see this type of behavior! Fortunately for us they decided to wake up while we were on scene and exploded into an amazing aerial acrobat display. It was a great way to finish our Whale Watching for the day. But the finale came toward the end of the trip when we saw a Peregrine Falcon near Burrows Island display aerial supremacy over a Bald Eagle. The Falcon hit the Eagle twice in mid-air and proved once again it is not always the biggest, but the fastest who wins most battles in nature.
Tuesday, June 15th: Yesterday turned out to be a great day! We caught up with the Whales at the south end of Lopez Island and followed them to the north end of San Juan. The water was a little choppy, but not enough to affect the Island Explorer II. Captain Matt said he saw the more activity this trip than any other trip so far this year. The Whales were breaching, spy hopping, lob tailing and we were very fortunate to have quite a few close passes.
The Whales went through Active Pass last night, which should put them back in front of Anacortes tomorrow morning just in time for our trip! Sure enough our first report of J Pod, 22 Orcas, came from the south of Lummi Island at 9:00 a.m. This is even better timing than yesterday as we were off the dock before the Whales passed our marina. It is currently 12:00. The sun is out. The water is calm, and the Island Explorer II is watching Whales!! Our Summer Schedule starts Saturday. We will be offering a 10:00 a.m. and a 4:00 p.m Sunset Whale Watch Tour.
Monday, June 14th: We have enjoyed another great week of Whale Watching in the San Juan and Gulf Islands! This morning the Whales were at Lummi Island southbound at 7:00 a.m. We got a second call from Warren Sisk who was watching the Whales from his deck while enjoying his morning cup of coffee. We got a third call from Jennifer Aggergaard, who was also watching them pass within one mile from where our tour departs. Captain Matt actually stood on the roof of the Island Explorer II to watch them go by. Today will be a great Whale day!! Yesterday we spent the day with L Pod on the west shore of San Juan Island. Saturday we were in the Straits of Georgia, up near the Fraser River where we had great Whale Watching on both days. We have also been seeing Peregrine Falcons and Bald Eagles with babies in their nests and aeries. We have also been seeing Harbor Seals and Harbor Porpoises on every trip. There has also been Minke Whales and Transient Orcas around this week. Whale Watching will only get better throughout the summer as the food supply (Salmon) continues to increase.
Tuesday, June 8th: Easy duty today! This morning we received a report of Whales southbound at Point Roberts and, with these big tides, they normally come right past Anacortes. We caught up with them in the Straits of Georgia just north of Lummi Island. It was J Pod in calm water with very few other boats. Our captain also reported seeing Salmon swimming just below the water's surface. Most likely these fish were the start of the Summer Sockeye Salmon run. The Whales were foraging and looked very happy today. We also had a great island tour and saw lots of other wildlife along the way. The weather was perfect and we are looking forward to another great trip tomorrow! If anyone is watching from the shore, the Whales will pass by Washington Park in Anacortes this evening at approximately 6 p.m., proving once again the Whales are not always in front of Lime Kiln Lighthouse at 2:00 p.m. like the San Juan Chamber of Commerce suggests.
Monday, June 7th: The Island Explorer II was one of the only American boats to see Whales today as we tested our western boundary. J Pod and L Pod were together heading west five miles south of Victoria. We caught up with them west of Sooke Basin off Vancouver Island. We were closer to Neah Bay than Anacortes. The ability to run this far is the reason Island Adventures guarantees Whale sightings when other companies cannot. To our knowledge this is as far west as any American Whale Watching boat has ever been on a day trip. Our customers were glad they picked Island Adventures for their Whale Watching experience. Tomorrow I guarantee the Whales will be closer. Another great trip is in the books!!
Sunday, June 6th: L Pod is back! We caught up with L Pod today near Hind Bank as they worked their way toward the beach. We finally got to use our new Orca ID Guide to identify L Pod. (We have been looking at J Pod so much this spring that we don't need an ID guide.) L Pod turned east swimming past Lopez Island then up Rosario Straits passing one mile from our dock at the end of the day. Another great day of Whale Watching aboard the Island Explorer II.
Saturday, June 5th: Those who made reservations with an adverse weather forecast were rewarded today. We had a morning report of Whales southbound at Point Roberts. We knew these Whales would eventually go right past Anacortes later in the day. Our tour started today with a great wildlife tour as we wove our way through the Islands en route to the whales. We saw Eagles, Seals, Porpoises and many Seabirds. We first saw Orca Whales at the north end of Lummi Island proving once again they are not always on the west shore of San Juan Island. We spent some quality time with J Pod and the weather turned out better than the forecast predicted, which is normal in the San Juans.
Friday, June 4th: It has been a busy week at the Island Adventure Center. Sorry we haven't been updating the Whale Reports daily, but its been the best week on the water so far this summer. L Pod came through last Saturday and they look great! We expect to have all three pods in the area the rest of the summer. Our Kayak Tours have been getting busier with this great weather and our new store is ready for summer. Today we had two boats on the water and they both enjoyed the afternoon watching J Pod, our favorite of Resident Orcas. Captain Jeremy was even excited when he had a breach within 20 feet of the boat! We left them going north on a flood tide and if history repeats itself, there is a good chance we will have Orcas in front of Anacortes tomorrow. We have also been seeing Minke Whales, Harbor Porpoises and lots of Eagles on nearly every trip. We will try to be better this week on giving you daily reports. If you want to know what is going on with the Whales, feel free to call the office directly. STAY TUNED TO OUR WHALE REPORTS!! ITS GOING TO BE A GREAT SUMMER!!!
Friday, May 28th: We got to take our favorite route today. Our first stop was at the south end of Lopez Island on our way to spend the afternoon with J Pod on the west side of San Juan Island. The Whales moved off shore as we arrived. We spent the afternoon with J Pod for the 18th day in a row! We also saw a Minke whale, as well as lots of other seabirds and other marine life. The weather looks great for this weekend, and we are looking forward to tomorrow. There have been mystery reports of L Pod on the west side of Vancouver Island as well as the east side of Vancouver Island. They could show up any day! We are looking forward to their return and we will keep you up to date. Stay tuned!
Thursday, May 27th: We had more weather challenges today. The first whale report was of Transient Orcas west of Victoria, which was a possibility, but we were hoping for J Pod in Rosario Straits today. The phone rang at 10:15 a.m. with a report of J Pod at Lummi Rocks, southbound and our day just became a whole lot more exciting. We picked J Pod up in Bellingham Channel just north of Anacortes and followed them south as they passed within one mile of our marina. We stayed with the whales all the way to the south end of Lopez occasionally checking out other wild life along the way. We also saw what may be one of the last Steller Sea Lions hauled out until next September. It has rained more this week than it will for the next three months combined, but Nothing Stops This Show!
Wednesday, May 26th: We knew where the whales were at 7:00 a.m. this morning and knew it was going to be a great day. The whales were on the west shore of San Juan which is a real easy run for the Island Explorer II. We had some wild weather for part of the trip, but that didn't stop us from finding 22 Orca whales. We went around the north end of San Juan Islands on the way home to make it a smoother and more scenic island tour. We also saw seals, eagles, porpoises and much more!
Tuesday, May 25th: This morning we had Westview Elementary School from Burlington on board, a People For Puget Sound field trip. We saw Orcas as well as lots of other sea life. In the afternoon of the same day, we had our first 4:00 p.m. Sunset Cruise. Although we didn't see the sunset, we did see Orca whales for the second time today. We had a great trip despite the weather. It was another successful day on both the morning and the afternoon Whale Watching Tours.
Sunday, May 23rd: J Pod right in front of Anacortes AGAIN! Same place as Friday - in Bellingham Channel heading south toward the ferry dock. We have been getting so lucky with timing lately! This loop pattern is totally normal but to have them so close just as we leave the dock is quite cool. And the weather today couldn't be better. I am still absolutely amazed at this place we so fortunately call home.
Saturday, May 22nd: J's stayed on the west side of San Juan all night and were hanging out at Lime Kiln Park during the day. We had a nice island tour, cruising south Lopez, around San Juan Island (where we saw J-pod), and back through the middle of the islands. Other wildlife sighted includes Harbor Seals, Harbor Porpoises, Long-tailed Duck, bow-riding Dall's Porpoises, and lots of seabirds.
Friday, May 21st: Whales right in front of Anacortes! J's made their loop to the north and were on their way back south between Cypress and Guemes Islands. Captain Matt was headed up Bellingham Channel, checking out eagles and seals at east Cypress - he looked up ahead and there was J-Pod! It's always very sweet when we're the first to find them. We saw lots of different behaviors, some vocalizing, and awesome close encounters - most notably 3 big breaches within 50 feet of the boat! Even in the cloudy weather the day was stellar. Sam, one of our crew, got some great photos of the whales breaching and spy hopping. On the way home we took a close look at Deception Pass bridge and saw a pair of Bald Eagles foraging in the inter tidal zone at Deception Island - a great way to end the day.
Thursday, May 20th: The Whales have been on a traditional loop pattern around the islands for the last three weeks. They went north in the evening of the 19th, so we had high hopes they would be close to Anacortes this morning. We received a great report of Whales near Lummi Island South bound before we left the dock and we knew it was going to be a great day! We saw J Pod (22 individual Orcas) in Bellingham Channel and stayed with them as they passed very close to Anacortes. There were a lot of breaches, spyhops, and other social behavior. We also saw eagles, seals, and many sea birds. The weather was great, and we are looking forward to another great trip tomorrow. We also have kayak trips available daily and the Whales swam right past our Burroughs location today.
Wednesday, May 19th: Our passengers got to watch J-11 teaching her calf how to catch and eat Salmon near False Bay, San Juan Island. It was a pretty spectacular sight! They approached within 20 yards. Close encounters are always very special.
Tuesday, May 18th: Today we had a great inner-island cruise. The whales were on the west side of San Juan and heading north, so Captain Matt took us through the middle to the northwest to insure an Orca sighting. We were lucky enough to catch them between Henry and Stuart Island. J Pod was grouped up and resting and we got some good looks at the entire group. They were heading north into the Canadian Gulf Islands, but it turns out they turned around and headed south. We were fortunate to have a very unique sighting of a Bald Eagle fishing off Crane Island.
Monday, May 17th: J's were hanging on the west side of San Juan Island, maybe they'll stay here for a day or two. They seem to stay for 1-2 days before swimming the loop around the islands - it has been their May pattern so far. We're looking forward to the arrival of K and L pods which could happen any day, but for sure by early to mid June. We're just now entering the peak Orca season and it should extend into mid-October. YEAH!!
Sunday, May 16th: Almost like clockwork! Captain Matt headed north in search of the Whales as we expected them to be coming south in the Strait of Georgia. He was getting nervous when two other Whale Watching boats peeled off of the search and headed south for a Minke Whale. It pays off to know the Orca patterns - he found them at Alden Bank in the southern end of Georgia Strait heading our way! We visited with J's for a couple of hours and even saw a Minke whale near the Orcas. Good thing for the Minke that these whales are salmon-eaters!
Saturday, May 15th: J pod stayed on the west side of San Juan last night and today but were headed north in the afternoon. We watched them on the northwest side of the islands between Henry and Stuart Island. Oreo and Double Stuff gave us a nice close up look. J-1 (Ruffles) was out in front of the group and they were headed up to the gulf islands (on the Canadian side). Looks good for tomorrow!
Friday, May 14th: J's were hanging out on the west side of San Juan today - so we didn't have to go very far and had a great day. The whales seem to be doing great--spread out and fishing a lot.
Thursday, May 13th: Lucky day for us! The whales kept going north last night so we were expecting them on our side today. Sure enough one of the Vancouver boats found them just north of Lummi Island headed south toward Anacortes! We got to spend about two hours with them along the SW shore of Lummi.
Wednesday, May 12th: A great island tour today as we headed southwest around the San Juans. The orcas of J pod were traveling northwest up the shore of San Juan Island and we caught up to them near Henry Island. It was a great show with some close-ups, too. We finished the day cruising through the middle of the islands between Shaw & Orcas and Blakely & Decatur.
Saturday, 8th - Tuesday, 11th: Orcas each day! Saturday J pod was on the southwest side of San Juan just traveling slowly. Sunday we saw them up near the Canadian Gulf Islands heading north up Boundary Pass. And Monday they came back south down Rosario Strait in front of Anacortes at about 11 am. Tuesday we had one of best trips yet for close encounters - the boat sat at Eagle Point, San Juan for an hour! The whales were milling around, curious and friendly - it was great!
Friday, May 7th: Well, the orcas were too far north to reach them today so we headed south on a Minke Whale and wildlife tour. We were able to find three Minkes just south of San Juan Island and had a great show. Still seeing Steller Sea Lions but they should be heading out to the coast late May. Low tide during the day has also made for some great viewing of intertidal zone critters as well.
Thursday, May 6th: We had an early morning report of whales coming in the Strait near Victoria, B.C. Captain Jeremy headed that direction first thing and came on scene near Trial Island, just this side of Victoria. Today was the best show so far of J pod - they were very active and came close to the boat several times. The tide was flooding and pushing them and us toward San Juan at an amazing clip. At just over idle speed we were traveling right along with the whales at 16 knots! We were in the current called the 'super highway'. The whales time it right to use this 'highway' to get back to San Juan Island.
Sunday, May 2nd: We think the whales headed west later Saturday night and traveled out the Strait. Needless to say they were not in the area today but we did see some great wildlife including Steller Sea Lions, Bald Eagles, harbor seals, and many seabirds. We're looking forward to the return of the Orcas.
Saturday, May 1st: The whales were a bit closer today. We found them at the southwest end of San Juan Island. J pod was very spread out and foraging - hopefully they're getting enough to eat this spring. Their travel patterns have been very similar to years past so that's a good sign. By mid-May they are usually around on a daily basis.
Friday, April 30th: Today was a long haul but we got to see J pod way up north near Pt. Roberts. They were headed south but slowly. J's were pretty spread out - probably fishing as they traveled. We had a great day for weather also and calm water!
Wednesday, April 28th: We had a trip scheduled for Tuesday but it was much too windy to go - peak gust on the west side of Fidalgo Island was 55 mph! Though our next trip is Friday we still keep up with the whales movements and today they (J pod) were spotted on the southwest side of San Juan Island. They had presumably come in from out west in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Lets hope they stick around through the weekend!
Sunday, April 25th: As of sunset yesterday J pod was near Port Angeles heading west into the sunset. We were hoping they would turn around and come back into the islands. They didn't but maybe when they return they'll bring K pod with! The folks on the Island Explorer II had a great day regardless - lots of seals, sea lions, porpoises, and seabirds. As the boat was sitting still watching a bird ball with lots of baitfish and seals, up surfaced a Minke whale! What a treat to be watching other wildlife and have a Minke whale come to us. He (or she) gave us some great looks and was a nice way to wrap up the day. Captain Matt felt pretty good about finding him since no one else had spotted a whale yet today.
Saturday, April 24th: Today is shaping up to be a great day. J pod has been up north by the Fraser River, Vancouver, BC, and Nanaimo - just yesterday they were north of Point Roberts heading north. Today they are in Haro Strait heading south (just west of San Juan Island). They covered a lot of ground over the last 24 hours! The weather is super and the forecast looks incredible. What an awesome spring this year!
On a recent tour we saw a juvenile Humpback whale north of Saturna Island - what a treat! And at boiling reef, east point of Saturna, there had to be a hundred or more Steller Sea Lions feeding in the rips and tide lines. Seabirds were flying everywhere - even over the bow of the boat. It was absolutely amazing. Like the Discovery Channel live!
Sunday, April 11th: The last report of orcas was on Friday and it turns out that they were up north of Vancouver on Saturday when we took a flight trying to spot them. Then, this morning we had a solid report of whales near Point Roberts heading south. The Easter Bunny brought us J-pod in the Strait of Georgia! All 22 orcas were present and accounted for, including J-2, whose estimated birth date is 1911. Other wildlife sighted included stellar Sea Lions, Bald Eagles, Harbor Seals, and much more!
Saturday, April 10th: We were looking for J pod today on our side of the islands after a friday afternoon sighting report north of Anacortes. They were headed north so they should have turned and come back down toward us today. We took a flight to get a bird's eye view in the morning. The visibility was so good that we could see a single gull on the water from our elevation. If the whales were in the Strait of Georgia, we would have seen them. Since J's weren't up there we sent the Island Explorer II south down Rosario to find Minke whales. There were two very friendly ones at Salmon Bank who gave us several great close up looks. The two of them were traveling close by each other which is unusual. Minke's are fairly solitary animals so this could have been a mother and calf or sub adult. Captain Matt said it was one of the best trips so far this year.
March 27th - Today was sort of a repeat of the 20th, except we saw two Gray's instead of one. We did go through Deception Pass again but the current was very mellow - just a knot or two. There have been 5 or 6 Gray whales in Saratoga passage this week so we were hoping for one or two up north. No such luck - we had to go toward the south end of Whidbey Island to see them. But it's always worth it! Other sightings included Bald Eagles, Harbor Porpoises, and Dall's Porpoises (which is rare in Saratoga Passage). We're still 3 for 3 and it only gets better from here.
March 22nd - No trip today but J -Pod was sighted at Lummi Island heading south at 9 AM. Almost certainly they swam past Anacortes on their way around the San Juans!
March 20th - We lucked out again with the weather; March can be a fickle month. The Island Explorer II headed south in Rosario Strait waiting for an Orca report. No other boats had seen J pod yet so we decided to turn into Deception Pass (which was a white water raft type experience with the 7 knots of current running through!) and try to find a Gray Whale in Saratoga Passage. They have been hanging out at the south end of Whidbey but we were hoping for one or two further north. We had everyone on the boat searching for the blow - we were successful! A Gray was feeding and slowly traveling from the Oak Harbor area toward north Camano Island. We got some great looks, lots of surfacing and fluke shots when it sounded (dove). On the way home the captain decided to circumnavigate Fidalgo Island and cruise through La Conner. We saw many Bald Eagles, Herons, Red-Tailed Hawks, and for the first time ever we saw Swans and daffodils on a whale watching trip! The high tide made it possible to see over the dike in Swinomish Channel. What a unique tour!
March 13th- What a great day for our first trip of the season! The weather was fantastic - we really lucked out with calm water, sunshine, and temps in the 50's. Our tour was filled with wildlife sightings: we saw about 14 Bald Eagles together on Deception Island, Harbor and Dall's porpoises in the Strait, roaring Steller Sea Lions on Whale Rocks, Harlequins, Oystercatchers, and Harbor Seals near shore, and finally J-Pod! We got late word of the orcas inbound from Boundary Pass but it was so late in the day that we weren't sure if we should attempt to reach them. But Captain Jeremy said "Let's go for it!" - so we did. We met up with them near Stuart Island (Turn Point) and had some great looks. Mike, a 13 yr old male in J-pod seems to be going through a growth spurt! Even though we were late it was worth every minute. We definitely go the extra mile - or 30 - when we need to!!
There have also been reports of L pod down along the Washington coast near Grays Harbor. It is very typical for L's and K's to be out there in the winter and they should be returning soon. We're looking forward to a great season and to happy, healthy Orcas!