San Juan Island's Original Sea Kayak Outfitters & Guides Since 1980

Fantastic Orca Encounter #4

Kayak with Orca WhalesSometimes sea kayaking with orca whales involves backing into a bed of bull kelp and letting them come to you.  On this day, we were backed into a kelp bed awaiting L pod on a hot summer day.  The tide was rushing out directly in front of us like a river, and, since the whales were coming from the south, we knew they would be fighting against the ebb.  This is a good thing because they move more slowly against a strong tide, especially when they have calves along who are not yet strong swimmers.  This guarantees that we get more time to observe them.

The pod was strung out over a couple of miles, and we sat back for an hour and watched wild orcas breach, lobtail, spyhop and porpoise directly in front of us.  The last two whales were a mom and her calf obviously having a hard time keeping up with their group.  The calf(perhaps six months old) was barely making headway against the tide, but you could see that it was chafing for it’s independence when it would leave mom and swim off on it’s own.  As they approached our vantage point in the kelp, the youngster veered away from mom to explore on it’s own.  Surfacing just in front of our bows and unaware of us, the lone calf surfaced, blew and suddenly saw us.  The unexpected sight of us in our bright kayaks was too much, and the youngster dove , and , even without the hydrophones, we could hear it under the water yelping for it’s mother.  Sure enough, a protective six ton guardian suddenly surfaced next to the calf with a loud explosion of breath and escorted  her child safely along the edge of the kelp bed to rejoin the rest of the pod.

We had enjoyed an extraordinary visit from a pod of orca whales and especially from a mother orca and her calf!

Acknowledgments

All photos in our website have been contributed by past guests. Thanks to all who have shared their experience! And special thanks to guest Philip Robinson for his fun pics.

Contact Info

San Juan Kayak Expeditions
Tim and Sally Thomsen, Owners/Operators since 1980
PO Box 2041
275 A St, Friday Harbor, WA 98250, USA
+1-360-378-4436
sanjuankayak@rockisland.com
Open 7 days a week for questions & reservations.

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