Saturday, November 30, 2013

San Juan Island: Part 3

Welcome back for the third and final part of my trip to Washington in October. The photos today are from the whale watching boat trip I took and the final night driving back down to Seattle.

My biggest hope in Washington was to see orcas. I did get the opportunity to see two transient orcas on the hunt for food while in the Haro Straight. Before we got to the orcas we saw some harbor and dall's porpoises and stellar sea lions. I'll start with the nice weather conditions we had on the water. Below is our boat wake.

I see harbor porpoises a lot in California, but they are really hard to photograph and don't typically make very interesting photographs. There are two harbor porpoise photos below. The first is what you typicallt see. A small triangular dorsal fin for about .5 seconds. Then they are gone. This is why I really like the second photo, which is an adult and calf. They have really odd shaped bodies and are the smallest cetacean. These particular porpoises were riding in the wake of our boat, once again, a rare sight.

Harbor porpoise (Phocoena phocoena)
Harbor porpoise (Phocoena phocoena)
 A first for me was to get to see Dall's porpoise. They are incredibly fast porpoises who often like to bow ride and surf boat wakes. They are very distict with the frosting tipped dorsal fin seen below. It was great to finally see them in person. 
Dall's porpoise (Phocoenoides dalli)
Below are the rest of the photos from the trip leading up to seeing orcas. The two orcas that we saw were a male and female transient pair who are seen often in the straight. We didn't get to spend too long with them, but since they were hunting while we were around them, they were very quiet (they put a hydrophone in the water) and didn't do any playful actions such as breaching, spy hopping, or tail slaps. They are still a sight to see.

Common murre (Uria aalge) father and chick. Males teach the baby how to fish.


Lime Kiln state park lighthouse
Bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)
Male transient orca (Orcinus orca)
Orca (Orcinus orca)
Male orca (Orcinus orca)
Orcas (Orcinus orca) in Haro Straight

On our way back to Friday Harbor, we took some time to stop and check out the unusual ungulates at Spieden Island. Spieden Island is a privately owned island that was stocked with exoctic deer, sheep, antelope and goats. We saw fallow deer (Dama dama) and Mouflon sheep (Ovis orientalis). We also saw a bald eagle and some harlequin ducks (Histrionicus histrionicus).
Fallow deer (Dama dama)

Fallow deer (Dama dama)

Fallow deer (Dama dama)

Bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)

Bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)

Bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)

Harlequin ducks (Histrionicus histrionicus), the males are brightly colored and the females are brown.

Harlequin ducks (Histrionicus histrionicus)

Harlequin ducks (Histrionicus histrionicus)
Finally for the last two photos of the trip, I leave you with Mount Rainier at sunset (taken on the ferry back to Anacortes) and Seattle at night (on the ferry from Seattle to Bainbridge Island).
Mount Rainier

Seattle skyline