Steller Sea Lion Swimming

[Friday, 5/18/18 - M/V Seahawk - 10:00 - Naturalist Erick]


This morning Captain Pete and I took a wonderful charter group that was here on island for a beautiful wedding. We headed out with a full boat and started our search. We exited Mosquito Pass into Haro Strait and started heading north. We headed around the northside of Henry Island into Spieden Channel. We made our first stop at Sentinel Rocks to look at a colony of Harbor Seals lying on the rocks there. They were sunning themselves during the super low tide today. They get out of the water every so often to dry off and rest. There was even a couple of new young ones in this group that were also sunning themselves! Looks like we were just in time for pupping season. Next, we continued on and traced the southern shore of Spieden Island. Here we saw four adult Bald Eagles perched on various shoreline trees and the grassy slopes on this side of the island. As we continued on we saw a few more Bald Eagles soaring up above as well as a small herd of Mouflon Sheep grazing the side of the hill here. These sheep were brought to the island a few decades ago for an exotic game hunting ranch and have lived here ever since. They look like bighorn sheep and like to run and ram each other sometimes too! We kept on going east and soon saw a few huge male Steller Sea Lions swimming in the middle of Spieden Channel. This guy cleared his nose a few times then came over to take a closer look at us. He swam over and started to eye us and it was awesome to see how big he really is. These males can top off at around 2,200 lbs and be 11-12 ft long - huge! After he eyeballed us for a few minutes and snorted in our general direction he moved on to join his buddies a few yards in front of us. Then he did a deep dive and caught a fish! When he brought that back to the surface his sea lion buddies started trying to steal some along with a bunch of seagulls. We head now around green point through a roaring riptide and wound our way through the Cactus Islands and through Johns Pass. We pointed towards Boundary Pass and eventually to Turn Point on Stewart Island. In this area we saw a whole bunch of Harbor porpoises swimming and hunting in the eddies coming off of the prominent Turn Point. It was so cool to see their sleek bodies zipping through the currents here. There were several groups of them so we kept watching as we rounded Turn Point, Passed Lovers’ Leap and headed back home!


Until next time,

Naturalist Erick

San Juan Outfitters