Laura | M/V Sea Lion | 2/29/2020 |12:00pm
This is the first blog of the season and what a wonderful Leap Year! We were so excited to announce J Pod was in the area this morning! Calls of Southern Resident killer whales were heard on the Lime Kiln hydrophone and excited pedestrians caught glimpses of the pod by the County Park! M/V Sea Lion, Captain Pete and I were so exuberant to leave the dock and head out to the Salish Sea! With a full boat of passengers sporting smiles in the Pacific Northwest sunshine, we ventured north into the San Juan Channel.
J Pod was seen spread out and milling by Stewart Island, right around the lighthouse. There were a few other vessels in the area, but since the whales were scattered in groups of two to four, we were able to enjoy these beautiful mammals in a peaceful and quiet backdrop. Passengers were so grateful to have the opportunity to see members of J Pod today, since the current Southern Resident population has been designated to currently only 72 individuals. We had a up close and personal encounter with Cookie and Oreo as they hugged Stewart Island. What a magical experience! Cookie is a large male in J Pod, and passengers were able to appreciate his enormous dorsal fin as he cruised around our boat. Blackberry was also in the area on our port side. J Pod seemed to have us loosely encircled for the majority of our time with them. Passengers were in awe that everywhere they looked they could see orcas surfacing!
At some point our time with the Southern Residents had to end as much as everyone wanted to stay and continue watching J Pod. We continued through the islands in search of other marine mammals. Today was such a lucky day because minutes later we spotted a peregrine falcon off of Stewart Island! It is rare to get to see such a magnificent bird watching whales! He or she also seemed to be enjoying time with the Southern Residents. Spieden Island was illuminated in the sunlight as we passed down the west side, showing off all the grazing ungulates including sika deer, fallow deer, and mouflon sheep. Harbor seals were hauled out in this area as well, basking in the sunshine. We also saw a pair of bald eagles huddled side-by-side on an exposed tree limb. Today was an absolutely wonderful trip and a beautiful day out on the water. I can’t wait to go back out on the water and hopefully J Pod will accompany us again soon!