San Juan Island Whale Watching report for Friday, April 10th:
Well, it's early in April and we've had great success spotting wildlife the past few days. On Friday Captain Nancy and I left Roche Harbor with gray skies overhead. There were reports of Transient Orcas near Fulford Harbor, and we crossed our fingers we'd make it across the Haro Strait before they disappeared. Luck was with us as we drew close to the southern tip of Salt Spring Island, and we watched as a large group of transients, 6 in all, slowly moving around the bay. Although the male was evidently the largest, it would have been an older female in the group who was in charge. The male was easiest to identify, of course, with his almost 6-foot dorsal fin towering above the rest. With 3 foot dorsal fins, females and juveniles of both sexes look alike. Once the males mature at 15, however, their dorsal begins to grow until there is no mistaking the sexes.
We watched this group for a long time, as they surfaced and breathed in unison. As they began exploratory dives and started to move away, we too moved off.
The most extraordinary thing happened on our return course-- just as everyone settled back into the toasty cabin, or curled up with blankets to enjoy the scenery on the ride home, we encountered another pod of transient whales! This time there were about 5 transients together, and we were extremely happy to get not one, but two glimpses of whales up close.
What a day!