Yesterday's whale watch trip started out unspectacularly- as we were leaving the dock the sky was overcast, with bits of drizzle here and there and we hadn't heard any news about whales in the area all morning. As a whale watch guest who has paid good money this uncertainty can be disheartening, but I assured all 8 of our passengers that sometimes while we are out we hear reports of whales from other boats and that sometimes we ourselves are the first ones to stumble across a pod no one had reported. So we begin our cruise around the San Juan Islands, looking for other wildlife and keeping our eyes open for any orcas. The guests were great-we had a great time chatting and end up spotting numerous bald eagles, harbor seals hauled out on a rock, observe all kinds of animals on Speiden Island and before you now it, the sun is starting to peek out and there are blue patches in the sky. We continue on and cross paths with a large group of harbor porpoise being more active than usual-doing mini versions of some of the acrobatics we hope to see the orcas display. A bit later, absorbed in conversation, I feel the boat make a U-turn and confirm with the captain what we had been hoping for-ORCAS!!!! With the sun now fully out and creating a glorious day, we make a bee-line for East Point, in the Gulf Islands, and have a great time watching members of J-Pod cruise by. Finally, as we are heading back to Roche Harbor ( a bit late, but completely satisfied by all the wonderful encounters we have had!), the most amazing thing happens - we stumble across a Minke whale!! Now minkes are not that uncommon in the San Juans, but they are solitary, hard to spot, and normally not particularly charismatic. Not this day!! This minke was repeatedly breaching out of the water, over and over! This was a behavior I had read about but never witnessed and even the captain was in awe. After the breaching was over, the whale submerged and surfaced a few minutes later fora breath only 20 yds from the boat! We all had a fantastic view of a hard to watch animal and it was the perfect end to a perfect trip! I love the San Juan Islands!!!
-Debbie, Naturalist on the Sea Hawk