If you want to be a part of this spectacle any time soon, then you must know some things to ensure you enjoy that spectacle.
Give The Whales Some Space
U.S. regulations require boaters to maintain a distance of 200 yards from killer whales. These regulations apply, with some exceptions, to most vessels in Washington’s inland waters.
If you’re in a boat wherein the whale pops up within 100 to 200 yards of your position, then the boat’s operator should move out of the animal’s way. The vessel shouldn’t be under power if the creature is within 100 yards.
Combat Sea Sickness
Being prepared for possible sea sickness won’t hurt, especially if you’re prone to it. Pop a tablet or eat a hearty meal before that whale-watching trip to reduce the chance of getting sea sick.
If you feel sea sick by the time you’re offshore, try to sit outside and stare at the horizon. This is a tried-and-tested method that it might help settle your stomach.
Look and Scan Slowly
If you’re fortunate to ride a boat within whale-traveling territory, then look and scan the area for certain signs that a whale is nearby. Watch for a misty spray that a gray whale emits from its blowhole.
Whether you’re using a pair of binoculars or your own eyes, slowly scan the ocean left to right and in-between while relaxing your eyes.
Observe the Animals’ Behavior
Aside from keeping your distance from whales, try to notice how they behave. The Whale Museum, a non-profit organization that monitors the animals, cautions everyone to watch for the following signs:
- Attempts to escape such as underwater course changes, prolonged diving, or below-water exhalation.
- Any pattern of evasive swimming such as rapid surface swimming.
- Tail swishing or other protective movements by a female whale to shield a calf from human observation.
Watch Out for Other Whales
Orcas aren’t the only whales visiting the area. Humpbacks, minkes, and gray whales also make their way into the vicinity. Watch any of them from a boat when you can, although you can still see them from one of six public beaches on San Juan Island.
As the saying goes: patience is a virtue. Remember that watching for a whale can take an hour, but it’s not always guaranteed that you’ll get to see one. Just remember that the thrill of being on a charter boat that includes a qualified naturalist and marveling at the sights should be more than enough to compensate.
You might say whale watching on San Juan Island creates a memory that will last a lifetime. By knowing and following the above tips, you get to experience something you’ll always remember.
Washington’s San Juan Island is best place to see — and sing to — orcas, oregonlive.com
Whale watching in the San Juans, whalemuseum.org