We were again treated to orcas close to San Juan Island. On the warmest day of the year so far and some of the best sunshine we’ve had in a while, we were definitely ready for another foray into the waters of the Salish Sea.

Again we had no reported whales in the area, but as we have seen in the past few days that does not mean that there are no whales around. We changed things up a bit and headed south, enjoying the scenery of the shorelines of both San Juan Island and Lopez Island as we cruised through San Juan Channel. We enjoyed watching the many water birds diving through the placid waters of Griffin Bay and were thrilled to have a panoramic view of the entire Olympic Peninsula and the end of Vancouver Island stretching to create the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

We pushed further and further South, only our Captain Mike, had been that far south in search of whales… It was definitely the furthest south either Naturalist Erick or I had been in search of wildlife. Finally, at the mouth of Puget Sound itself, our southerly hunch paid off! Southern Resident Killer Whales!

Erick and I were thrilled to see members of J Pod—Group B, the J17 and the J22 matrilines: in total eleven whales. We got a unique opportunity to observe the two families at rest! The whales were traveling very slowly and  were for sure enjoying a whale cuddle puddle. The orcas were constantly intertwined, with the two new babies of the J17s (J53 and J54) right in the middle. We even got to observe J53 nursing from mom J17 Princess Angeline. J22 Oreo and her two sons J34 Doublestuf and J38 Cookie were also in the mix. J38 Cookie has grown a lot over the winter and is starting to look more and more like a handsome adult bull.

On our way back to Friday Harbor we stopped for some awesome views of Steller’s sea lions and harbor seals as well as some beautiful bald eagle fly-bys. All and all a magnificent day out on the water!

Naturalist Sarah, M/V Sea Lion, San Juan Safaris