It’s been a great week of whale watching, with lots of whales seen, and we finally have great summer weather, with sun and temperatures in the low 80’s. A perfect time to be out in the San Juans! This week we’ve seen a great variety of whales, resident and transient Orcas, playful Minke whales, and today a group of very active Humpbacks. While we didn’t see them ourselves, there were even reports of a Fin whale and some Gray whales in the area recently. The photo below was taken by out of our passengers this week (Mary Lou – Nooksack, WA) – thank you for sharing this great photo!
It’s been a spectacular season so far, with lots of great Orca and Humpback whale sightings, with several days that we’ve had multiple sightings. Summer weather has finally arrived as well, so now is really a great time to go out to the islands on a whale watching cruise. Our deluxe and half-day whale watching tours are available, with reservations recommended – you can call 1-800-443-4552 or book online.
Despite the early morning rain (which let up halfway through the day), it was a spectacular day in the San Juans for whale watching. Our first half day whale watching tour aboard the Chinook was successful in finding a group of Southern Resident Orca whales near Vancouver Island, and our deluxe whale watching tour found Humpback and Minke whales.
We had a great day on Friday, having a great time watching members of J-pod (one of the three resident pods of Orca whales) during our whale watching tour, then again in the evening on our cracked crab dinner cruise. We had the bonus of seeing some of the younger members of the pod breaching repeatedly – what an experience! Today (Saturday) we are on our way to the islands with reports of a Humpback or two just outside of Friday Harbor. If you are looking to see whales this year, now’s the perfect time to go.
The season is off to a great start, with lots of sunshine, warm temperatures and great whale sightings. While the season got off to a slow start in early-to-mid May, it’s been excellent the past few weeks, with frequent sightings of transient Orca whales, Humpbacks, and now the resident Orcas (J, K and L pods) are back in the area. Our Deluxe Whale Watching Adventure Cruises are going every day, through the end of September, and we’re just about ready to start a new Half Day Whale Watching Tour on weekends aboard our newest vessel, the Chinook. It’s going to be a fun season – hope you can make it out on the water with us!
What an amazing season this was – the weather was close to perfect with lots of warm sunshine, but this was topped by the number of whale sightings. With the season over we saw whales on just over 95% of our cruises, and there was a great variety of whales to be seen as well. In addition to the three resident pods of Orca whales (J, K and L pods), we saw lots of transient Orcas, Minke whales, Humpback whales (especially in May and September), Gray whales and towards the end of the season we even saw a Fin whale a few times.
This season also saw the resident group grow by 5 – 4 of these babies just received names (Scarlet, Nova, Sonic and Windsong) and a fifth (L-122) was just born a few weeks ago and will be given a name soon.
Thanks to everyone who joined us on a tour this season – we’re already at work getting ready for next summer!
It has been an amazing summer filled with great weather and lots and lots of whale sightings. The majority of the time we’ve been seeing the three resident pods of Orca whales (J, K and L pods), with occasional transient Orca and Humpback whale sightings. Add absolutely amazing weather, with lots of sunshine and warm temperatures, and it’s been one of the best seasons in recent years. It’s not over yet though – we still have over a month of tours left. More information can be found at: https://www.whales.com/Cruises/San-Juan-Adventure-Full-Day-Cruise.aspx
On our final Bird Cruise for the season we went to Smith Island. Smith Island is the only place left in the San Juan Islands where the elusive Tufted Puffins nest and raise their young. It is a remote island and offers the birds an isolated nesting spot. Tufted Puffins usually have the same mate every year and return to the same nesting burrow. Here in the sandstone bluffs of Smith Island they raise their one chick in deep burrows. Both parents take care of the chick and spend their days carrying fish back to the burrow. Within a few short weeks, the chick will leave the nest and start foraging for itself. The thick kelp beds here provide habitat for the small fish eaten by the puffins. By late summer, the puffins will head out to the open ocean where they will spend their winter.
In previous years, Smith Island has always been a place to go and maybe see a couple of puffins. With this nesting colony becoming firmly established, we see puffins on every trip. There were also many other species of birds seen on this trip. There are certain islands where we always see the colorful Harlequin Ducks and Black Oystercatchers. Rhinocerous Auklets, Pigeon Guillemots, Common Murres, and Marbled Murrelets are other Auk species that we see.
(Photo Credit to Jim Bachman). Jim has been coming out with us on nearly every bird cruise for the last three years. (When Jim is on the boat, I don’t even take my camera out of its case) He has always generously shared his beautiful photos with us.)
It was a great day in the San Juans yesterday, lots of warm sunshine and whales. A former employee, Eric, was onboard and took some great photos which you can view on his blog. We’ve included a few of our faves below.
We have really enjoyed all of the sunshine we’ve received this spring – it’s been absolutely gorgeous just about every day we’ve been out this season. It’s now summer, and this weather is set to continue for the next 7-10 days or so. We’ve seen lots of wildlife on recent tours – Minke whales have been plentiful, and yesterday we saw a group of Orca whales on the west side of San Juan Island. Saturday was the best though – transient Orcas (T-69’s) on the outbound trip to Friday Harbor, and a different group of transient Orcas (T-65’s) on the way back to Bellingham. If you want to join us on a whale watch this summer, more information can be found here: https://www.whales.com/Cruises/San-Juan-Adventure-Full-Day-Cruise.aspx