Tuesday, August 25, 2009

San Juan Island Whale Watching

As I said, we were up early for us, and at the dock by 8:30. Our boat was the Island Commuter, and it is just that. The interisland shuttle.



This schooner was in the next berth, but I’m pretty sure that tickets were not a $100 each like ours were.

There were people on board, that had obviously spent the night, as they were in their PJ’s and rubbing their eyes.

We rode from Island to Island picking up, and letting off folks on their commute.


Two and a half hours later, we arrived at Friday Harbor.


Ya got 45 minutes to do lunch, maybe you should bring it back in a sack!


This place has a bunch of possibilities.


Loyce is waiting for me, reminding me we don’t have time to take pictures!


We pick the Blue Water Bar and Grill, just because it was right across the street from the landing.


The only place to eat was at the rail! Note the big ferry pulling in with hundreds more folks that want some lunch.


We ate quickly, and paid when we got the meal served. Gathered some of it to go and ran back to the boat.

As we departed, the Washington State Ferry was also heading out.


This is when the whale watching tour began. Once we were away from the dock, we were told the truth. The resident pods of whales were miles out to sea, and hadn’t been spotted for several days! Oh good!

But they knew of some transient Orcas that were in the area, but they were really wild, and had taken a Seal off San Juan this morning, and were unpredictable. We’ll go try and find them.

This picture is with a 200 mm lens which is the biggest I have. It is blown up 4 times over a 50 mm which would be about normal. By law we have to stay a 100 yards away.


I took oodles of pictures, and at times they came closer to us. So the Captain stopped and let them swim by. There are four of them, with the matriarch on the left. She leads the pod.


I have cropped these to further enlarge the shots. Otherwise they are spots in the distance. You lose detail and focus but at least you can see them this way.


The sun was behind them and shining right into the lens, to add even more fun!



It was hard to get them up all at the same time.


With the sun behind them, I got this shot of their breath as they cleared their blow hole. That is the equal of our nose, if they had one.


On the way back to San Juan Harbor, the Captain took us by a nesting Bald Eagle. He didn’t seem to even notice all the crazy folks taking his picture on the boat.


We arrived back in San Juan at 4:30. Dropping off the Whale Watching folks, and then taking on a whole new manifest of commuters.

We stopped on every Island that we had visited on the way out, picking up over a dozen teen agers at the last Island that was only 30 minutes from Bellingham. They had been camping all weekend, and had all the gear to go with it.

Most of them went out on top, where we had been to watch the whales. There wasn’t a single seat left inside. Except I was sitting on two, back in the corner by the head.

We had been on the boat for over 10 hours. We were really glad to get off!!!!!

Retired Rod


  1. Great pics, Rod. Especially under such difficult circumstances(distance and sun). I really enjoyed the tour especially since it didn't cost me a $100!! That's quite a long day to be on a boat - I'll bet you were glad to hit the old sack after that day! Safe driving!!

  2. I can appreciate your photography difficulties but you got some great pics anyway.

  3. Nice photos, Rod. If you post them as small or medium they take less time to upload and folks like me don't use too much bandwidth loading your blog!

  4. Hi Rod... Your photos are so GREAT!!! You did a fantastic job of capturing the whales with all that was against you. Thanks for all the great information. We'll be there next fall and have been wondering what whale watch expedtions are the best... Have Fun!

    Travel Safe


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