June on the Hook – Day 20, 21 – A Whale of a Time

Lime Kiln Point

Southern Resident Orcas Sighting Off of Lime Kiln State Park, June 25th 2017

One of the great things about exploring the Pacific Northwest from a small boat is the marine wildlife that I experience. I observe orcas, humpback and grey whales, sea lions, sea otters, Dahl’s porpoise, harbor porpoise, salmon, cormorants, eagles and kingfishers to name only a few. My encounters with marine wildlife have typically been by chance. When I am on the water, my attention is often focused on the wind, the currents, the boat, my schedule, what will I eat, am I keeping myself hydrated and a number of other self-absorbed thoughts. I look out over the surface and often see a barren landscape. Then, often suddenly, marine wildlife breaches the surface and I am reminded of the activity, diversity and biomass that begins just below the surface.

Whales are the marine life that piques most people’s interest and are typically the rarest. Still, I have come to expect a couple sightings per year. In 2017, I watched a humpback off of Apple Cove Point near Kingston for 45 minutes. It was diving in the tide ripped waters while I drifted on a windless June day in the Flicka. In previous years I have seen humpback and grey whales in the Strait of Juan de Fuca and along the West coast of Vancouver Island. These massive animals surfacing and breaching a stones throw away are larger than the Flicka and heighten the experience with a level of fright. Once, when I was circumnavigating Vashon Island in Puget Sound in my canoe, a humpback surfaced 50 feet away. Startling, alarming and amazing to say the least. “Wow, it’s awesome to see you, now please swim away.”

While technically dolphins, I have witnessed southern resident orca pods off of Kingston, Blake Island, and San Juan Island. I have spotted transient orca, in Spieden Channel, in Port Jervis Inlet and in Puget Sound.  Transients can be identified by their small groups or solo appearance. The mother of all sightings was not actually from my boat, but from Lime Kiln Sate Park on San Juan Island, which I was visiting on my June 2017 sailing trip (so I was still exploring in my small boat.) It was remarkable. We watched the J and K pods go by in Haro Strait for 15-20 minutes on a beautiful day and several were only about 100 yards off shore.

Southern Pod

The Lime of Whale Watching Boats in the Distance

There are laws designed to protect the marine wildlife and set parameters for viewing.

Orcas

The Parade……

Haro Strait

……Goes On……

Haro Strait

…… And On……

Lime Kiln Point

Mama and Babe

Lime Kiln

The Old Lime Kiln

San Juan Island

Red Skies at Night

San Juan Island

A Barbecue and Sunset from San Juan County Park

San Juan Island

Looking South Over Haro Strait

San Juan Island

June 25th, Whales, Barbecues and a Skiff Ride to Canoe Cove on Lopez Island

Friday Harbor

June 26th, List of Chores Completed:

Kayak to get Fuel, Empty Trash, Do Dishes, Charge Phone, Call John Van Lund for Flicka Tour, Tidy Boat, Prep to Leave on Tuesday, Check Rigging, Book July 4th Trip to Sidney, Fix Back-Up Headlamp, Retrieve Flashlight from JC, Suss Solar Lamp – Battery?, Check Bilge, Check Anchor and Suss New Boat to Anchorage, Tighten Halyards.

 

 

 

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4 Comments on “June on the Hook – Day 20, 21 – A Whale of a Time

  1. and people pay good money to whale watch         Limestone Park looks as though it is a neat place to visit    is it far from Seattle ?   love, Dad

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    • Lime Kiln State Park is on the Island of San Juan, so getting there is a production of boats and cars. As the crow flies, its about 70 miles away. The timing of being there was pure luck, as well as the number of sightings. Very uncommon.

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