This season has been one of the best – lots of great whale and wildlife sightings and the weather has been pretty amazing as well. We’ve been fortunate to have some great photographers on board, including loyal customers and members of local photography groups. We also just completed a film shoot, from which we’ll have some great online videos and TV commercials soon.
Our whale watching tours have been very successful, with sightings of transient orcas, humpback whales, minke whales, and a few gray whales so far. The resident orcas are back as well, and with the weather becoming more and more summerlike each day, now’s a great time to join us on one of our tours! (The chart above shows the locations of our sightings so far this season)
This season turned out to be one of our best ever, with sightings on nearly 95% of our whale watching cruises. We had three different whale watching tours, all of which were popular, with folks enjoying frequent sightings of Orca, Humpback and/or Minke whales. If you came out with us this summer, thank you! We are already getting ready for another great summer in 2018!
Included here are photos taken by Jim Bachman on the last day of the season – what a way to close things out, with a group of Orcas, as well as harbor porpoises, a Stellar sea lion, and a variety of sea birds, including marbled Murrelets.
We are definitely in the midst of prime whale watching season, with great sightings over the past two weeks. We’ve primarily spotted Transient / Bigg’s Orca whales, as well as Humpback and Minke whales. Combined with beautiful, sunny weather it’s been quite a summer, but it’s not over yet. We’re running for a few more weeks, through September 24th, so now is a great time to avoid the crowds and come aboard for a memorable whale watching experience.
The photos here are courtesy of Jim Bachman, who joined us on our Deluxe Whale Watching tour on Sunday, September 3rd – in addition to great viewing of Transient Orcas, we also saw seals and a wide variety of sea birds.
Yesterday was a great day – we saw whales on all 5 of our cruises, including our Deluxe and Express whale watching tours, the Sucia Island picnic cruise, the evening crab dinner cruise and a private charter. It was a group of transient Orcas (T65A’s) out in the northern San Juans. While our success rate is close to 95% on our whale watching tours for the season it was a rare treat to be able to see them on our other tours as well.
One of our naturalists, Victoria Souze, recently wrote an article about the transient/Bigg’s Orca whales for the Bellingham Herald – check it out at: https://goo.gl/w7tFXD
It’s been an amazing, and interesting whale watching season so far. Our success rate for seeing whales on our whale watching tours has never been better – since we started in early May we have seen whales on nearly 98% of our tours. While we have occasionally seen the resident pods of orca whales, most of our sightings have been of transient orcas and humpback whales. Unlike resident orcas, which primarily feed on salmon, transient orca whales feed on larger prey such as harbor seals. The large population of harbor seals in the San Juan Islands has resulted in more transient orcas being “less transient” this summer.
Sightings have been equally good on all three of our whale watching tours – our Deluxe, Express and Evening tours. If you would like to see whales in their natural habitat, with the stunning scenery of the San Juan Islands, now is the perfect time to sign up for a tour!
(Photo by crew member Matt)
We set out on Friday to go to Smith Island, the only place in the San Juan Islands that has a nesting colony of tufted puffins. Unfortunately, the weather was too windy to venture out of the protection of the islands. Smith Island is a few miles south of the San Juans in unprotected waters.
Instead we were treated to over an hour of spending time with Bigg’s (formerly known as transient) killer whales. We were able to see a Bigg’s killer whale family known as the T49’s. These killer whales eat marine mammals, and they were actively hunting through the passes between the islands. There were numerous harbor seals on the rocky haul outs with newborn pups, and pregnant females. Harbor porpoise were also observed feeding in the tidal rips.
We made the best of our inner island trip to sight birds, and were well rewarded. We saw numerous pigeon guillemotts and rhinocerous auklets; both of these species are related to the tufted puffins.
Also sighted were:
Bald Eagles and nest
Double crested and Pelagic Cormorants
Great Blue Herons
Glaucous Wing Gulls
(Photos courtesy of Jim Bachman)
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!
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!
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.