Tag Archives: san juan cruises

Whales & Wildlife Report: Transient Orca Whales On Bellingham Bay (T65A’s) – 6/23/17

Today we were fortunate to have an amazing morning with a group of transient orca whales (T65A’s) only 20 minutes after leaving the dock. We were the first vessel with them, meeting up with them in the waters between Lummi and Eliza Islands. There were 5 adults and a baby – all were quite playful for a while (especially the baby), with tail slaps, flips and a spy hop. After a bit they pointed north and at about 4 kts, went up Hales passage. Combined with beautiful blue sky and plentiful sunshine, it was an incredible start to the day!

Whales & Wildlife Report: A Great Weekend Of Humpback Whale Sightings

This weekend was a reminder that summer isn’t too far away – beautiful sunny weather in the San Juans, the perfect setting for whale watching. Saturday and Sunday were all about humpback whales – we had great sightings both days up north of Patos Island, very close to the Canadian border. We have a few school field trips going out this week, with our next public whale watching tour scheduled for this Saturday. After that, we’ll be running whale watching tours daily through the end of September. We hope to see you aboard sometime soon!

Whales & Wildlife Report: Great Orca & Humpback Whale Sightings Continue

The season is going great so far, with lots of great orca and humpback whale sightings. We’ve now done 4 Deluxe whale watching tours, plus several school field trips, and have seen orcas and/or humpbacks on every trip so far, with tours taking us west and north of the San Juan Islands so far. With great sightings so far, and a forecast for sun coming into the weekend, now’s a great time to join us. The Deluxe whale watching tour includes a tour of the San Juan Islands, a shore visit in Friday Harbor and our Northwest salmon & chicken buffet.

The 2017 Whale Watching Season Is Underway – Humpbacks & Orca Whales

Our 2017 season kicked off with decent weather, but excellent whale sightings! We found a playful, active Humpback on Saturday, just north of Saturna Island in the Canadian Gulf Islands, and Sunday was Orca whales – lots and lots of Orcas (J-Pod) on the west side of San Juan Island. Thanks to Jim Bachman, we have some great photos from Saturday’s cruise. In addition to the Humpback whale, we also saw lots of other wildlife. For more info on our Deluxe Whale Watching tour, visit: https://whales.com/whale-watching/full-day-whale-watching-adventure-cruise/

New Evening Whale Watching Tour Added This Summer

This summer we have added a new whale watching tour that will go out Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays during July and August. It’s a great chance to see the islands when summer weather is at it’s peek, while having a great chance of seeing whales and other wildlife. The evening is capped with a delicious, freshly prepared lasagna and Caesar salad dinner.

Departing at 4 pm from the Bellingham Cruise Terminal, we’ll cruise into the San Juan Islands, using information from our whale spotting network to find the best locations for viewing whales that evening. You’ll enjoy great views from the outdoor upper deck and along the bow of the boat, enjoying informative and entertaining narration from our captain.

The Salish Sea has ample indoor and outdoor seating, a bar with beer, wine and non-alcoholic beverages available for purchase, and a restroom.

Bird Watching Cruise – 7-5-15 – Smith Island Puffins

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.)

Species list for this trip:

Harlequin Ducks

Great Blue heron

Green Heron

Double-crested Cormorant

Pelagic Cormorant

Turkey Vulture

Bald Eagles

Black Oystercatcher

Bonaparte’s Gull

Heerman’s Gull

Western Gull

Glaucous Wing Gull

California Gull

Caspian Tern

Common Murre

Pigeon Guillemot

Marbled Murrelet

Rhinocerous Auklet

Tufted Puffin

Belted Kingfisher

Tree Swallow

Violet-Green Swallow

First Bird Watching Cruise Of The Season – Sucia & Patos Islands

The day was just right for bird watching. Calm seas and sunshine. We went up Hale Passage and crossed Rosario Strait to Sucia Island. Slowly cruising around the Finger Islands through Echo Bay, we saw a Pigeon Guillemot nesting colony here. On the eastern side of the bay, there was a large congregation of Harlequin Ducks. It was one of the largest flocks that many of us had ever seen. Heading north and rounding the northern tip of Patos Island gave us a great view of Mt. Baker with the lighthouse in the foreground. There were many harbor porpoise and harbor seals feeding in the tide rips. One of the harbor porpoise had a very small calf with her. Harbor porpoise are very boat shy, and they do not come close. However, we had a small pod come right next to the boat. We returned home on a different route and saw many different species of birds to add to our list. The nesting colonies that we observed were Pigeon Guillemots, Double Crested and Pelagic Cormorants, and Glaucous Wing Gulls. There was a pair of Black Oystercatchers at the same nesting spot that we observed last year; they tend to not nest in colonies.  Last season we were able to watch the chicks from incubation to almost fledging. We saw two Peregrine Falcon nests and a Bald Eagle’s nest. One of the parents was feeding the chicks.  One of our passengers was able to add five birds to her Life List.

Species List

Harlequin Duck

Surf Scoter

Brandt’s Cormorant

Pelagic Cormorant

Turkey Vulture

Bald Eagle

Peregrine Falcon

Great Blue Heron

Black Oystercatcher

Bonaparte’s Gull

California Gull

Caspian Tern

Glaucous-Winged Gull

Pigeon Guillemot

Rhinoceros Auklet

Rock Pigeon

Belted Kingfisher

American/Northwest Crow

Tree Swallow

Violet-Green Swallow

Barn Swallow

Pacific Wren

White-Crowned Sparrow

American Goldfinch