Whale watching around the San Juan Islands is a mesmerizing activity that attracts tourists from all over the country and overseas due to its population of orcas. Visitors enjoy the beauty of this massive yet graceful animal from a safe distance. However, there are frequent questions that should be answered before embarking on this adventure to make sure you truly get the most out of the experience.
When should I go whale watching in San Juan Island?
The Salish Sea, which includes San Juan Island, is home to Southern Resident Killer Whales (SRKW), hence their nickname “Orcas of the Salish Sea”. This is the only killer whale population to be classified as an endangered species, and you will most likely see these types of whales in the Salish Sea from spring to fall.
What behaviors will I see?
Whale-watching is a wonderful opportunity to see these beautiful behemoths’ behavior in the wild up close. One of the first things to keep an eye out for when whale-watching is the exhalation from their blowhole. They will either do this at the surface or underwater, which is known as “bubble blowing”. During exhalation, the orcas will send a spout of water vapor into the air that makes a very recognizable sound. Other behaviors that may be seen are tail thrashing and fin slaps. A “breach” is without a doubt one of the most majestic displays of this animal, which happens when it leaps into the air and splashes down on its side. These unforgettable moments happen quickly so make sure to keep your camera at the ready.
What Should I Bring?
Be sure to bring a camera with a good zoom lens (100-300mm) and the right pair of binoculars to observe and capture these animals in their full glory. Marine binoculars are particularly recommended for whale-watching since they provide the proper magnification and are waterproof, allowing you to make the most out of this experience.
Moreover, while some people seem to be naturally gifted for sea travel, others aren’t as lucky. You might have experienced that queasy feeling when traveling on a boat known as sea sickness. However, this doesn’t have to get in the way of having a memorable and pleasant whale-watching experience. For some, having a few ginger snap cookies for snacking may be all you need. The ginger seems to keep the stomach calm. If you are particularly sensitive to motion sickness, you could try some over-the-counter medications. Or it might help to consult a physician before your whale-watching trip to get a prescription for a medication to reduce the symptoms of sea sickness. Also, some helpful tips to keep in mind include keeping your head as still as possible and avoiding alcoholic beverages and heavy meals before the trip.
Whale watching is a unique opportunity to see these animals in the wild and learn about their behaviors and habitat, so prepare in advance for this once-in-a-lifetime experience to enjoy it as much as possible.
Behaviors, Whaleresearch.com https://www.whaleresearch.com/orca-behaviors
Southern Resident Killer Whale Population, Whaleresearch.com
9 Whale Watching Tips, Thoughtco.com