Fall is approaching, but there is still a lot of summer here. Yesterday (Friday) Captain Gabe and I headed south along the west side of San Juan Island to search for the Southern Resident Killer Whales. They often are seen on this west side because their main food source, Chinook Salmon, travel along this coast as they make their way north to large river systems so they can spawn there and complete their life cycles. As we exited Mosquito Pass we saw some splashes and it was two Steller’s Sea Lions tearing up a skate that they had caught. These Sea Lions leave for the summer to breed up in Alaska and now they are starting to trickle back down to their over-wintering grounds… like the San Juan Islands! After we watched these Grizzly Bears of the sea for a while we continued south, saw a bald eagle swoop over and a Great Blue Heron!
Soon we were approaching the locally famous Lime Kiln Lighthouse and saw blows! It was three orcas! And we were the only whale watching boat watching them. We soon identified them as the J22’s, part of J pod, which are members of the Southern Resident Killer Whales. We affectionately call this matriline the Cookie Clan! Here’s why, J22, the matriarch’s nickname is Oreo and her two sons J34 and J38 named DoubleStuf and Cookie. They are both males. DoubleStuf is full grown now and Cookie is in his awkward sprouter phase where his fins are growing a lot. We got to spend a ton of time with this awesome family as they chased fish towards shore and sometimes even towards us! We soon had to turn back though but we got to stop and see a Bald Eagle’s nest, a few Harbor Seals, and a Harbor Porpoise on the way back to Roche Harbor! What another beautiful sunny day in the San Juan Islands! Come visit us before fall gets here!