Today I paddled out with two friends from Seattle who were excited to see all the wildlife the San Juans have to offer. We were getting some great looks at bald eagles, sea birds and harbor seals and were taking a short break in a forest of bull kelp when the report came in that whales were in the Haro Strait and headed south-- towards us! We watched as whale watch boats moved down the strait and then noticed that a few whales were much closer to shore--to us. At this point we couldn't paddle offshore into a strengthening current and into the path of the whales, so we hunkered down into the kelp forest and watched the whales swim by just a few dozen feet from our boat. That was exciting enough in its own right, but then we saw the dorsal fin of a large male and it seemed to be headed right towards us! It came closer and closer and closer with each breath-- we began to get nervous as it seemed to be on direct course towards us-- until it finally broke the surface of the water just a few feet from our boat. His dorsal fin towered above us, waving slowly, and we could clearly see that it was Ruffles, or J1, a resident killer whale in the J family. Ruffles is one of the largest males in the entire Southern Resident Community, and to see him just a few feet away was certainly humbling. For my guests it was the satisfying of a dream.

What a great-- up close-- look at the killer whales!