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Thursday, July 2, 2009

Turn Island Picnic and More Westside Whales

Today was an awesome summer day in the San Juan Islands. I didn't have to work today, so I finally got to take up my neighbor on his offer to take us over to Turn Island in his 13 foot zodiac. Turn Island is a small island that is designated as a State Park not too far from Friday Harbor. We decided to take a picnic lunch over there this afternoon. Here I am on the ride en route to Turn:

On the way we got to check out a couple of harbor seal haul outs. I saw my first harbor seal pup of the season last Sunday, the 28th of June, and look forward to seeing more in the near future.

Here we are approaching Turn Island:

The island has camping, picnic, and moorage facilities.

Before lunch, we decided to walk the trail that goes around the island. I had been here once before, and the trail was longer than I remembered. It weaves through the woods and along the shoreline cliffs:

Just before we got back the cove where our boat was pulled out, this ragged looking sub-adult bald eagle swooped by overhead:

After we finished lunch we decided to drive around in the zodiac and do some sight-seeing. The best part is, I even got to drive the boat for a little while! We circled around Brown Island, which is the island we look across to from our Marina. I have seen this carved bald eagle totem pole before, but had never gotten a close look at it until today:

Once we got back home, we heard that all three pods of whales had met up and were probably headed towards the westside of San Juan Island. We raced out there, and while most of the whales were several miles offshore, we got there just in time to see the closest group pass by. What was really cool was that several males seemed to be hanging out together. At one point you could see no fewer than six tall male dorsal fins at the surface at once! Here is a young male giving a tail slap:

An adult male is surfacing in the foreground, in front of a whale that was swimming upside down at the surface. Just before this picture was taken, the rear whale had both pectoral fins in the air and did an inverted tailslap. Here he is rolling over to give a pec slap, practically hitting the whale surfacing right in front of him.

We came back home after the whales all headed north and had a barbecue dinner with some friends. All in all, a fantastic summer day in the islands!


Lancashire and Lakeland Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris said...

hi Monika, looks like you had a superb day out...look at that blue sky...we had that here once..and all those orcas, what a pity orcacam is experiencing a technical glitch. I was hoping for my 4500 mile arm chair tick this weekend, hope they stick around long enough for the camera's problems to be fixed...fingers crossed. In the meantime keep taken those superb photos



Vera said...

What a fabulous day! I especially like the tail slap picture.

Heather said...

Sounds like you had a wonderful day - it looks like it was picture perfect! That poor eagle - it looks like it's had some hard times! Or maybe it's just going through a molt? Have a great weekend!

Warren Baker said...

Another great outing by the sounds of it Monika. ( do you ever go to work. :-) )

You look a lot younger in that photo than i imagined you to be.

Monika said...

Dave - We'll get you that arm chair tick at some point!

Vera - I do too! Too bad its just every so slightly out of focus.

Heather - Good question about the eagle and molting versus rough times. I know sub-adults can get chased away from old nesting sights, from scavenge sites, etc. but they also go through more plumage changes than adults. I wonder if they molt more often? I'll have to look into this.

Warren - I do go to work, quite a bit actually, I just have the fantastic job of working as a naturalist for a whale watch company. I work in the office, too, but I get out on the water a lot. I don't know how old you thought I was, but I'm 24 :)