An orca whale spyhops

[7/20/17- M/V Sea Hawk- Kelsey, Naturalist- 2:00PM]

To start, it should be noted that San Juan Outfitters is part of the Pacific Whale Watch Association, and that means we receive information at any point when out on the water regarding whale and other wildlife locations and behaviors. This can create some exciting trips that are unpredictable, and today was one of those days!

We started the trip leaving beautiful Roche Harbor with no whale reports, but we were hopeful and searching regardless. We cruised past Speiden Island and saw some Mouflon sheep and Sika deer, and we also saw a few bald eagles soaring overhead and perching in high treetops. Harbor seals dotted the shorelines with their little pups in tow. The trip was already off to a great start, but we soon received a report of orcas north of our location that were just heading into our range. So, we took our chances and headed north! It was a long trip, but we had some troopers on the boat that were nothing but hopeful. And thank our lucky stars, the chance paid off…

We turned around East Point on Saturna Island and sure enough, there was a pod of killer whales! Later identified as the T37’s, the group of about 7 mammal-hunting killer whales (or transients) had just finished a kill and were celebrating with tail splashing, spyhopping, pec-slapping, and even some prolonged headstands. The goofballs slowly started to begin travelling again, slowly moving south and continuing their happy celebrations. We soon needed to head back to Roche Harbor, but we waved our goodbyes and slowly watched the whales flapping their flukes, almost as if waving back.

Today was an excellent positive example of how initial reports do not necessarily dictate the trip’s outcome. It is exciting to know that every trip is different and unpredictable, and you never know what your day is going to turn into!