T37A Pod Morning, K-Pod Afternoon


9:00 am trip highlights:
*We find a pod of 4 transient orcas in San Juan Channel
*A family of river otters
*Harbor seals, harbor porpoise
*Several bald eagles

We started our morning trip cruising through the inner San Juan Islands.  Our first stop was at Willow Island to look at a few harbor seals.  Next we headed south around Shaw Island in search of some animals that were spotted much earlier in the morning (7:20am), but then disappeared.  We headed north into San Juan Channel and just at the north end of the channel Capt. Scott spotted some blows! They were a pod of 4 transient orcas!  It was the T37A pod including T37A, T37A1, T37A2, and T37A3.  At first A1, and A2 were swimming together, and mom, T37A, was with her youngest calf, T37A3, about 200 yards ahead.  Eventually they all grouped up together and gave us plenty of great views before going on a long dive.  So we decided to peel of for a few minutes to check out a bunch of harbor seals at White Rock before heading back to watch the orcas again.  At this point they were already way up in President’s Channel.  They were all grouped up and swimming in a straight line for the rest of our time with them.  After saying goodbye we took a different route back to the dock to see some different scenery.  We cruised around Vendovi Island to check out a bunch of seals on the rocks and beaches, and then we found an immature bald eagle.  While we were watching the eagle we spotted a family of river otters playing around and eating a fish right on the rocks!  What a rare sighting for us!  The family had two pups with them, and one by one they all ran up the hillside on a well worn otter trail until they all eventually disappeared.  That was one of the highlights of the day!  Before we made it back to the dock we spotted 4 more bald eagles.  Naturalist Bart Rulon

3:30 pm trip highlights:
*K12 and K13 subpods
*4 tufted puffins
*A Steller sea lion, bald eagles, harbor seals, and harbor porpoise

The first stop on our afternoon trip was at Colville Island where we spotted several harbor seals hauled out on the rocks.  A few minutes later we spotted 4 tufted puffins at Iceberg Point, and one had a fish in his mouth.  After a few minutes watching the puffins we reached K-pod orcas offshore from Eagle Point and the first group we watched was the K13 Subpod.  It wasn’t the whole subpod, but we did see K13, Skagit, K25, Scoter, K27, Deadhead, K44, Ripple, and K34, Cali.  They were swimming in a tight sleeping mode, and gave us great views as they all came up and went down very close together.  Next we headed over to take a look at K12, Sequim, and her daughter K43, Saturna swimming side by side.  Within a few minutes K37, Rainshadow, swam in to join them.  Then they all turned around and swam right for our boat as if chasing some salmon down.  We had the engines shut down and the orcas swam back and forth under the boat giving us some unexpectedly awesome views!  We saw about 3 breaches from different orcas during our trip!   Toward the end we saw K33, Tika, swimming off in the distance, and he did two big spyhops in a row!  On our way back toward the dock we spotted more tufted puffins, black oystercatchers, and harbor seals, along with a Steller sea lion, and three bald eagles. What an awesome trip, complete with dramatic lighting and very calm seas.  Naturalist Bart Rulon  

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