2013 Trip Reports & Updates
Mystic Sea Charters had a 100% success rate for Gray Whale sightings in 2013!
"An amazing evening cruise on the Mystic Sea -- everything was perfect! Thank you Captain Monte and Leizel, we need to come back with our kids."
~ Keri Hall Greenheck, Mystic Sea Charters facebook fan
Monday, May 20, 2013
They say a picture can be worth a thousand words . . . well here are the two Humpbacks we saw off of Eastern Bank, surfacing in unison. AMAZING! We even saw some Steller Sea Lions on Whale Rocks too. Guess they haven't all left the area quite yet!
Photo credit: Naturalist Leizel Grant
Check out more photos in our 2013 Orca Season photo album: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Mystic-Sea-Charters/320581053622?sk=photos_albums
Sunday, May 19, 2013
AMAZING DAY WITH J-POD MOTHER, HY'SHQA J37, AND HER BABY, J49!
At first J pod was all spread out; some were milling near shore and some were further offshore, traveling south in small groups. But J37 and J49 soon showed themselves as the stars of the show, as they were really active -- splashing around and swimming in tight circles, and within a couple of minutes we saw them flip a big Salmon up in the air that they had been chasing! We also saw J2, J16, and J26, all off the west side of San Juan Island, just south of Pile Point. We even caught 2 full breaches! We had fantastic, warm weather and flat calm seas today.
J37 Hy'shqa, and baby J49, Photo credit: Naturalist Leizel Grant
Saturday, May 18, 2013
What a day! In addition to having our Resident Orcas back we also had a spectacular sunset for our evening cruise!
Today the Mystic Sea did a complete circumnavigation of the San Juan Islands, covering about 100 miles. We eventually found the whales at Hannah Heights, heading north very slowly. It was great to see 20+ Orcas from J pod! - we saw several fluke shots and tail slaps and even a couple breaches! We also saw several Bald Eagles, some Harbor Seals, lots of Harbor Porpoise, and even had a quick visit with a California Sea Lion.
Once again, the weather turned out absolutely beautiful, which made for a picture-perfect evening cruise! It was a 60th surprise birthday party decorated to the hilt, including confetti poppers, lots of fresh flower bouquets, and candle-lantern balloons that made the evening feel just magical. We cruised down to Bowman's Bay and shut down for a nice dinner catered by Gere a Deli, complete with drinks, hors d'oeuvres and two incredible cakes. After dinner we cruised through Deception Pass and were treated with a SPECTACULAR sunset, with the most magnificent hues of violet and lavender, contrasted by smokey grays and brilliant peach and crimson colors . . . all reflecting perfectly on the still waters!
~ Naturalist Leizel Grant
Thursday, May 16, 2013
It was a phenomenal day aboard the Mystic Sea today! We had 15+ Transient Orcas off of Point Lawrence heading southbound in Rosario. They split into 3 groups and were all lunging, rolling and feeding and we even saw one do an amazing spy hop. The grand finale was when we saw a Humpback in the middle of the T's just east of Thatcher Pass! We followed the whales down to Bird Rocks before turning and heading home to Anacortes. We had fabulous warm weather and flat, glassy waters ......Seattle: you can keep your rain, we are totally OK with all this sunshine!! :-)
Transient Orcas in Rosario Straights, photo credit: Leizel Grant
Recently we had a return customer from 22 years ago join us aboard the Mystic Sea! A gentleman had gone on a cruise with us when we were doing the Blackstone Glacier Cruises in Whittier, Alaska in 1991, and then when he and his wife saw the Mystic Sea in Langley, Washington this year they couldn't resist joining us on a Gray Whale cruise. Great people and great memories!
Mother's Day Weekend, May 11-12
~ 7 Transient Orcas & 5 Minke Whales this weekend! ~
We left the dock this morning with broken clouds and flat calm seas -even though the forecast was calling for rain it missed us, yay! We headed southbound around Lopez where we had lots of eagles and seals near Castle Rock. Then we made our way out past Iceberg Point and Salmon Bank where we had SEVEN TRANSIENT ORCAS! When we arrived on scene the Orcas were all jumping and breaching and they even made a kill when we got there! They continued giving us a great show, training their young; they had two youngsters about 2 years old, really putting on a nice display for us! Lots of tail flaps, rolls, lunges, several spy hops an at 30+ breaches! After a spectacular show we worked our way up the inside of the San Juans and stopped to check out the Steller Sea Lions. Beautiful, flat calm, nice day and great Orca show!
Thursday, May 9, 2013
Dall's Porpoise steal the show today!
After cutting across Rosario Straights to check out the Harbor Porpoise and Seals on Black Rock we headed northeast along the Orcas Island shoreline up to Peapod Rocks where we found over 100 seals basking in the sun! Although Anacortes was in thick fog we were lucky to have found sunshine up north in Georgia Straights. Between Blakely Island and Point Lawrence we saw a variety of bird life including 2 Rhinocerous Aucklets, lots of Surf Scoters, Cormorants and several Bald Eagles. Then as we were scanning the waters for the Transient Orcas that had been seen in the area last night we were treated with several Dall's Porpoise jumping and playing in the clear blue water. We circled several times and were delighted to see them playing in our bow wake! We also saw 1 light tan California Sea Lion and dozens of Harbor Porpoise on our way back south. We took the scenic route, pausing for photos of Mermaid Rock with Mount Baker behind, and altogether we covered about 80 miles . . . the majority of the northern San Juan Islands. Beautiful day and flat calm seas!
Harbor Porpoise and Mount Baker, Photo credits: Leizel Grant
Wednesday, May 8, 2013 ~ Nice day, lots of wildlife!
We started out the morning in some fog as we crossed Rosario Straights. It cleared up just in time for us to see dozens of Harbor Porpoise playing and breaching in the calm water near Thatcher Pass, "the inland passage of the San Juans". We took the scenic route around the north end of Lopez Island; along the way saw 4 California Sea Lions feeding on a large school of fish near Decatur Island and about 15 little Harbor Seals on Leo Rocks. We then turned, heading south down San Juan Channel towards Salmon Bank and the Cattle Point Lighthouse. Captain Monte expertly maneuvered the 100ft Mystic Sea through all the scenic areas around Deadmans Island and then took us out to Whale Rocks, where we were lucky to have about 25 Alaska Steller Sea Lions sprawled out. It was almost as if they were posing for pictures, and two young males were showing off, growling and pushing each other around! Caroline, our onboard Beachwatchers Naturalist explained that one of the main differences between Sea Lions and Seals is their ability to walk; sea lions can maneuver themselves fairly easily with 4 seperate flippers, whereas seals have to pull themselves along with their front flippers. After that we looked for Minke Whales around Salmon Bank for a while before turning west to complete our circumnavigation of Lopez Island. We also saw a mature Bald Eagle tending to her nest, a large Turkey Buzzard soaring above, and 5 Black Tailed Deer near the Cormorant Rookery in Hughes Bay. The whole day we had ideal weather and lighting for photos - it was just overcast enough to cut out any glare, but bright enough to make for a pleasant afternoon.
Photos: Steller Sea Lions, California Sea Lion, Harbor Seals
Photo credits: Jill Hein
Saturday, May 4, 2013
The Mystic Sea did a private charter for OPALCO (Orcas Power and Lighting Company) today . . . we woke up to a gorgeous mauve-colored sunrise over the islands and everyone enjoyed coffee and doughnuts in route to Orcas Island. It turned out to be a great day in the San Juan Islands ~ super warm weather too! After lunch we returned to Friday Harbor to drop off our group before heading back to Anacortes in the early afternoon.
Breakfast at the Orcas Island Hotel, Photo credits: Leizel Grant
Friday, May 3, 2013
We had quite a multi-national cruise today; we had people from Italy, Spain, Russia, and from all over the U.S., including Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, California, Colorado and Utah! On our way south in Rosario Straights we slowed down to take photos of the beautiful Burrows Island Lighthouse with the Olympic Mountains in the distance and then continued down to the southern end of Lopez Island. In a tall forked tree overlooking Hughes Bay we saw a huge mature Bald Eagle sitting on eggs, and then on the rocks between Richardson and Charles Island we saw several Harbor Seals with two tiny pups. After lunch we headed out towards Hein Bank in search of whales. As no one in the entire whale watching fleet had any reports of whales we were on our own – looking for Minke Whales about 3 miles south and west of Hein Bank. The conditions were perfect for wildlife viewing but we didn’t find any resident Orcas. On our way back we stopped at Whale Rocks to look at the GIANT Steller Sea Lions sprawled out enjoying the warm sun. It was entertaining to watch two young males growling and biting each other as they fought for space on the end of the rock. After a couple minutes they both fell into the water, into the tide rip, and continued wrestling and rolling around! Cool to watch!!
Thursday, May 2, 2013
SUCCESS ON OUR FIRST DAY OF ORCA SEASON 2013!
California Sea Lion, photo credit: Leizel Grant
What an incredibly beautiful warm day with SO MUCH WILDLIFE! We started the day heading west out Guemes Channel and immediately came across a big California Sea Lion laying on a Channel marker. The lazy guy didn't even move a whisker -- not even when another boat's wake made the marker rock back and forth! As we cruised south in Rosario Straights we saw a large variety of birdlife including Bonaparte's Gulls, Cormorants, Surf Scoters, and Turkey Vultures. We took a pass by Burrows Island Lighthouse where we saw a couple of Harbor Seals bobbing up and down in the Bull Kelp. Then we passed through the rock piles just south of Lopez Island and saw two little Pigeon Guillemots nestled up together in the sun below Castle Rock. Just a minute later we spotted a huge mature Bald Eagle perched on top of a large snag overlooking McCartle Bay, and another mature Eagle sitting on eggs, squaking and talking.
Burrows Island Lighthouse and Harbor Seals basking in the sun, photo credits: Leizel Grant
After leaving the shoreline we headed out into the more open water of the Straight of Juan de Fuca in search of whales. It was not long before we heard reports that one boat was with two Transient Orcas about 3 miles south of Trial Island (near Constance Bank, south of Victoria), so we beelined it west. It was exciting seeing the huge black fins in the distance, knowing we were about to see Orcas! When we got closer to them we identified them as brothers; T93, born in 1963, and T97, born in 1980. The two Transients were travelling fairly fast, making about 7 knots. They were veering apart and then coming back together . . . then Captain Monte Hughes shut the engines off for a while and it was such a treat to watch their huge dorsal fins rise up out of the water together, when the only sounds to be heard were of the water lapping up against the hull of the boat, and the mystical sound of the Orcas' blows! When it was time for the Mystic Sea to start heading home the whales were off of Constantine Bank heading east towards Whidbey Island. On the way back towards Lopez Island we had a great sighting of a large group of Harbor Porpoise (almost like mini-Orcas!) playing on the surface near the weather buoy.
Transient Orca, T93 and an afternoon chat with Prince of Whales, photo credits: Leizel Grant
This year we have approximately 280 Transient Orcas in the area and their population is increasing by 3% annually. It was a great day, particularly because we got to see some of the biggest Orcas in the area on our first day back in the San Juans!
Wednesday, May 1, 2013
Today the Mystic Sea Charters' Aquatic Research and Monitoring division (ARM) did inspections of the San Juan ferry docks for the Washington State Department of Transportation. By the end of the day the crew onboard had completed inspections of the Orcas, Shaw, San Juan and Lopez Island ferry docks. It was a glorious, sunny and warm day with perfect clear views of Mount Baker, the North Cascades and the Olympic Mountains. The water was such a brilliant teal color right up next to the islands and we could see clusters of huge rusty-red Bull Kelp growing in the shallow water. We also saw a couple of Harbor Seals pop up right next to the boat, wiggling their whiskers in curiosity, and a few Bald Eagles soaring overhead. While in Friday Harbor we heard reports of whales out west, so we are looking forward to a good day tomorrow ~ the first day of our Orca season, departing from Anacortes. Today was the perfect prelude to a great summer!
Sunday, April 28, 2013
Patch shows her namesake!
Gorgeous day today, lots of wildlife, flat calm and sunshine . . . we cruised over to Camano where we found a large Gray Whale, ID #56, making its way from the deep in towards the shallows - blowing and feeding on mudshrimp. After watching him for about 45 minutes we cruised on down to find Patch and #383 putting on a good show, backs high out of the water and tails flapping. Then as we cruised back on the south side of Whidbey Island we found another, #53, on the southwest side of Gedney. Great day aboard the Mystic Sea!
Saturday, April 27, 2013
"Another ‘whale of a day’ in Saratoga Passage aboard Mystic Sea today, with 7 grays - including a really long spyhop by #53. Those ID’d were 49, 53, 56, 383, 531 and 723. #44 may have been our 7th."
~Jill Hein, Beachwatchers Naturalist
Great spy hop off the east end of Gedney . . . one of many great photos taken on this picture-perfect day!
Friday, April 26, 2013
Great whale watch today! We had at least 5 Gray whales off of the east of Gedney, including Patch and Gedney. They put on a good show, holding nice and tight together as they were milling and feeding. The M/V Whaler reported that they saw a Full Breach!! Breaching is unusual to see for Gray whales, normally it is just Orcas that we see doing full breaches in these waters... SUPER COOL! We watched them for about 1 1/2 hours before heading home with smiles on our faces.
Monday, April 22, 2013
Clear as a bell today, with views of the Olympics, the North Cascades, and lots of wildlife in between! We left Langley in beautiful sunshine and as the day progressed the weather just got even warmer and better. Immediately after departing we spotted a Bald Eagle and a large Gray whale off of Sandy Point - we watched him do lots of rolls and dives for about 20 minutes before moving over to the east end of Gedney, where we encountered Patch and Dubnuck. They put on a great show for us and we followed them all the way to the delta and the Tulalip Bay. We found yet another large Gray whale in the flats digging for mud shrimp. On the way back we cruised over to Camano Head and Pebble Beach.
Sunday, April 21, 2013
We had great whales for our honored guests aboard the Mystic Sea; Howie and Susan, along with the board members from Orca Network enjoyed a day of good weather, calm seas, and great wildlife. First, we had Patch and Dubnuck off of Gedney, then we cruised over to the Tulalip shores and had a great show on the beach. The Gray Whales were laying in close to shore, one of them we ID'd as #531, flippping pectals up into the air! Before heading back to Langley we even had more whales off of Camano Head and several Bald Eagles soaring above. Then for our afternoon cruise we had a beautiful sunset and fantastic whales as well. We first found them over by the delta near Everett, then we slipped down to Camano Head and had whales off of Pebble Beach. Overall it was a gorgeous day with sunshine, calm seas, and lots of tails and rolls!
Saturday, April 20, 2013
Langley 'WELCOME THE WHALES DAY'
It seems that Langley is becoming the Gray whale watching capitol of Washington state . . . and today was the perfect day to be aboard the Mystic Sea for 'Welcome the Whales Day'!
Sunshine, flat-calm seas, and a great whale show made for a SPECTACULAR DAY! We spotted our first whales just out of Langley near Sandy Point and watched them for about half and hour or so. Then we saw some blows across by Tulalip, so of course we had to go investigate . . . they gave us a GREAT show as they were digging in the sand for mud shrimp, throwing their fins and rolling in the shallows! We saw lots of pectals and full rolls and everyone onboard was thrilled! As we turned north we spotted another one off the delta, and then found two more off the north shore of Gedney. It was a beautiful day and we on our way home we got to cruise back by the waterfront where the Langley 'Welcome the Whales' parade was going on. It was so cool to see all the people on the beach and the fun festivities from the water-side!
Friday, April 19, 2013
Another great day aboard the Mystic Sea started with a calm, misty morning which turned into broken skies and sunshine with flat seas by the afternoon. We had Beachwatcher's Naturalist, Sandra Pollard onboard who helped identify Patch and Dubnuck off of Gedney blowing and rolling every 15 minutes or so. We also saw two off of the delta in super shallow water - only 5-6 feet deep! - so their pectals and flukes were very visible as they threw them into the air while digging for mud shrimp.
Gray Whale Fluke, Photo credit: Naturalist Sandra Pollard
Thursday, April 18, 2013
Patch was the star of our show today!
Great day, Fantastic whales! Lots of rolling and tail splashes . . . we started off with two whales ~ Patch and Dubnuck were off the east end of Gedney and we stayed with them for about an hour. Another one joined in the show just before we moved on to where we had been seeing blows and spouts. It was a large female that we watched her for about 15 minutes. Then we moved on down to Camano Head in the afternoon, and as we were cruising along Pebble Beach we spotted another Gray Whale, our fifth whale of the day! Overall it was a nice day; a little overcast but good weather especially considering the forecast!
On our evening cruise we had the Langley Chamber of Commerce with honored guests, Susan and Howie, from Orca Network. We had a nice dinner and a fantastic whale show! Patch, Dubnuck, and two other Gray Whales were in and out throughout the evening; Patch was the star of the show and she put on a great display showing us her giant head, barnacle-covered body, and massive fluke many times over. She splashed about and spy hopped, saying hello to everyone ~ Fantastic day!
Monday, April 15, 2013
It was a beautiful day on the water today with 6 whales, sunshine and calm seas! During our circumnavigation of Gedney Island we had a few bald eagle sightings, and several Harbor Seals that surfaced to have a peek around. Our whales were spread in every direction between the east side of Gedney, Mukilteo, and the delta; Patch #49, Little Patch #53, Dubnuck #44, Lucy #723, and #'s 383 and 56. Each whale was up to a little different action and movement, and a couple of times we had them swim right by the boat. It was a good day with great whale sightings and the comfortable warm air allowed us to be in t-shirts with the wheel house doors open . . . ahhhh summer is coming soon!
Sunday, April 14, 2013
Within a few minutes of leaving the dock we happened upon our first whales of the day . . . our onboard Naturalist, Sandra Pollard, identified them as Patch #49 and #21. We watched them as they came down the beach by Sandy Point, eating, feeding, and rolling in unison. Patch was giving us a great show, showing us his tail on every roll! Then we followed them as they crossed over to Gedney Island where we came across two more, and then yet another down by Camano Head. It was a great day ~ good weather, wildlife, and 5 whales.
Saturday, April, 13, 2013
AMAZING, SUPER DUPER DAY TODAY!! . . . probably the best day this season with 4 Rainbows, Phenomenal Spy-Hopping Whales, and a Beautiful Sunset, WOW! On our morning cruise we had Naturalist Jill Hein onboard who was able to ID all 5 whales; #21, #22, #44, #56, and #531, travelling from the south end of Bell's Beach down past Langley and Sandy Point (all on the Whidbey side). Starting just 10 minutes out of Langley we had 3 whales rolling and breaking and digging in the sand and the highlight of the day was a spy-hopping whale down by Sandy Point, launching his body way out of the water! The people on the beach were in awe as they saw the huge head of the Gray Whale poke out of the water just a few feet from them over and over. Even as she would turn her head and look at everyone as if to say hi, we could clearly see her huge eyeball! Check out this photo - it was one of those occasions that one would have to actually see it to believe it!
By the end of the morning we had seen 7 whales altogether! Then for our evening cruise we had Naturalist, Sandra Pollard onboard and we went past the Clinton ferry dock and almost to Edmonds. We found three large Gray whales, including Dubnuck and a VERY large female that we have not yet seen this season. And then to top off an absolutely fantastic day we watched a beautiful sunset, color just lighting up all the water!
Friday, April, 12, 2013
Today's show was short but sweet...We had blows and tails off of Gedney and Indian Beach, and a lot of sightseeing of the Puget Sound.
Thursday, April, 11, 2013Great show with three Gray Whales including Dubnuck near Hat Island today! We watched for about an hour before cruising down to Camano Head where we found a 20-25 ft young male rolling and playing in the sand which was cool! Before heading back we cruised over and found another immature whale west of Langley...photos coming soon.
Monday, April 8th, 2013
A group of White Sided Dall's Porpoise, several Harbor Porpoise and 10 Gray Whale sightings today!
Photo credits: Jill Hein
We had broken clouds and calm seas on our morning cruise and encountered 2 large Gray whales just 10 minutes out of Langley. They were rolling and blowing off of Camano Head and we watched them for about half an hour before cruising over towards the west end of Gedney Island where we came across 3 more whales. These guys were more active and it was fun to watch them rolling and playing in the tide streak. We watched them for about 45 minutes until we saw another blow that was off the south end of Gedney and upon closer inspection, we saw that it was our buddy Patch. While watching Patch we were also entertained by a couple of cute little Harbor Porpoise playing near the boat, giving us a great show! After that we cruised over to Sandy Point and Pebble Beach where we could see blows down the beach so we watched 2 more Gray Whales for a bit before heading back to Langley in afternoon sunshine.
In addition to more Gray Whales on our afternoon cruise down towards Coupeville, we saw a group of Dall's Porpoise just a little north of Baby Island, which was exciting because they almost look like mini-Orcas!
Sunday, April 7th, 2013
So many whales today! Starting off with the first two doing deep dives just 10 minutes after leaving the dock near Camano Head, then continuing on to the west side of Gedney and then around to the east side where we found two more that we watched for about 20 minutes before cruising over to Pebble Beach where we found 3 more, giving us the very best show of all! As they were rolling and throwing their flukes into the air one of our customers remarked that their tails look like hearts . . . and the show got even better when they started showing us their flukes in unison, making it a 'Double Heart Day'!!
Fluke of #383 Photo credit: Jill Hein
Saturday, April 6th, 2013
"A huge thank you to Mystic Sea for hosting Island County Beach Watchers‘ fundraising cruise on Saturday. The weather AND whales both cooperated – we had many good looks at 5 (or 6) whales and their flukes!"
~ Jill Hein, Naturalist aboard the Mystic Sea
Double cruises today, whales on both! From Patch #44 and Dubnuck #49 doing deep dives in the morning to our first sighting of #53 this year, we had a GREAT day! On our cruise down towards Tulalip we found two more whales blowing and rolling, showing us their huge flukes. And to top it off a beautiful rainbow formed gracing our calm waters with delicate colors . . . it was just unreal!! There is no doubt that spring is here in the picture-perfect waters of the Pacific Northwest!
Left flank of gray whale #53....easy to identify :) Photo credit: Jill Hein
Friday, April 5th, 2013
All kinds of weather today ~ starting out with a windy, rainy morning, quickly changing into a calm, sunny afternoon ~ we had whales off the east end of Gedney Island. It was fun to watch them rolling and blowing in the rough water, frolicking in the surf!
Thursday, April 4, 2013
Another wonderful day aboard the Mystic Sea! The Saratoga was flat calm and sunshine warmed our backs as we cruised along, encountering wildlife of all sorts. Soon after leaving the dock we spotted a bald eagle perched patiently waiting for his next meal, and while we visited with the Gray Whales east of Gedney Island we also had a few Harbor Seals pop up to have a look around. Among the several whales we saw today we spent time watching Patch and Dubnuck, and soon after that we also spotted a couple of Harbor Porpoise playing near the boat. This season's bird life sightings include: Bald Eagles, Brant, Common Loons, Osprey, Pigeon Guillemots, Red Necked Grebes, Cormorants, Barrow's Goldeneye, Rhinoceros Auklets, Western Grebes, Surf Scoters, and Blue Herons among many others.
Rhinocerous Auklet, Photo credit: Jill Hein
#383, #22, and Dubnuck #44, Photo credits: Jill Hein
Monday, April 1, 2013
We spotted at least 7 Gray Whales today, including two of our favorites, Patch #49 and Dubnuck #44. We had beautiful calm seas and broken sun, and were lucky to have Beachwatchers Naturalist, Sandra Pollard, on board. We spent time with the whales near Gedney Island watching many rolls and blows, a few spyhops almost onshore at Hat Island and good flukes on several occasions.
Happy Easter, hope everyone is having an enjoyable weekend!
Saturday, March 30, 2013
It was a symphony of whales today! It seemed like they would all take a deep dive at the same time and then all of a sudden they would all come up together . . . with blows off our stern and then our bow, near and far, we were surrounded by 50,000 lb majestic giants! The Gray Whales were all over the place, spread over a 3 mile area near Gedney Island. We were also blessed with sun and beautiful, calm seas on the Saratoga passage, Bald Eagles soaring overhead, a Blue Heron, and Harbor Seals too. Perfect prelude to Easter!
Friday, March 29, 2013
Fantastic Day on the Saratoga Passage, sunshine and whales, yay! We were lucky to have Jill Hein, one of our Beachwatcher Naturalists onboard today and she was able to get positive IDs on the 5 Gray Whales we saw between Sandy Point and Hat/Gedney Island; #723, #383, #44, #22, and #56. What a treat, a few spyhops very close to shore on Hat Island and lots of flukes to entertain us. In addition, we had a great group of people onboard, including an adult tour group from Russia, none of whom had ever seen whales before. They were all super stoked and everyone onboard had a fun day.
Photo credit: Jill Hein; #44, Dubknuck's fluke
Wednesday, March 27th, 2013
We did an early cruise today and had great success with sunny, calm weather, good whale and wildlife sightings and a fantastic catered lunch aboard the Mystic Sea! We departed Langley at 9:30 for our private charter and went east to Camano and over towards Tulalip and Gedney. Just off shore of Gedney we spotted one large Gray Whale and were enjoying our visit with him when three more came up off our stern! We watched quietly in eager anticipation as to what the two groups would do, and sure enough all four joined together to play in the shallows. We watched them there as they rolled and threw their pectal fins into the air. After about 40 minutes they must all have decided they were done in the shallows and headed out towards the delta, so we cruised alongside them, getting a nice long show in before getting to our lunch destination. We said goodbye to these friendly whales, watching them blow many times before chowing down on some scrumptious lunch ourselves. Perfect day on the water!
"Had a great time today and you made it possible. Thank you, see you again soon!" ~Sharon Wright, Mystic Sea facebook fan, Wednesday March 27th
Photo Credit: Sharon Wright
Sunday, March 24th, 2013
It was another fun and successful Gray Whale weekend! Today we saw two Gray Whales rolling and showing off their barnacle-covered bodies, several eagles soaring close to the bow of the boat, a California Sea Lion poking out of the water saying HI!, and probably between 40 and 50 cute little Harbor Seals soaking up the sun all over the place. We left the dock at 11:30 and headed down to the whales, finding #21 between Baby Island and Camano. We watched him for about 45 minutes and then circumnavigated Gedney Island for more wildlife viewing. On our way back to Langley we encountered another whale on the west end of Gedney. We had enough time to watch him do a few rolls before returning to the dock with smiles and nice calm weather.
California Sea Lion, photo credit: Jill Hein
Saturday, March 23, 3013
"A stunningly beautiful day on Saratoga Passage today, aboard Mystic Sea, with Gray Whale #21 entertaining us all. He was feeding very close to shore, and delighted us with many roll-overs, and feeding shots with his pectoral fin waving, and half of his fluke (tail) out of the water."
~ Jill Hein, Beach Watcher Naturalist, Saturday, March 23
We had to go clear down past Clinton to Baby Island and Greenbank area to find our whales today, but it sure was worth it. We found a couple big males in VERY SHALLOW water, no people around, and they were laying on their sides doing 360 degree rolls! They would lay there and throw their pectoral fin and fluke into the air, then roll the other way. It was fascinating to watch him continue feeding and rolling so many times! In addition to our good luck with the whale sightings, we also saw a California Sea Lion and enjoyed a gorgeous day on the water too. The whale in the photo below is #21 (only three gray whales have names, and this isn’t one of them).
And of course, the 'blow'. March 23rd Photo credits: Jill Hein
Friday, March 22, 2013
Snowstorm last night!! It went from winter to summer in one morning...and we had Gray Whales, Bald Eagles & Harbor Seals too. What a dynamic day!
We had 4-6 inches of snow to start the day, making for beautiful and unique photo opportunities aboard the Mystic Sea, as snow is not common in the Northwest this late in the year. Then by noon we had sunshine and blue skies and flat calm seas. The doors were open on the boat and everyone was outside soaking up the sunshine. Just out of Langley we came upon our first whale, a large bull who gave us a couple of good tail shots. Then heading towards Tulalip we found two more Gray Whales east of Gedney Island and we followed them for a bit as they headed towards the delta. Good show...nice photos of tails high out of the water and active rolls. After that we still had some time and completed a circumnavigation around Gedney and continued our wildlife sightseeing around Camano. After a very dynamic day we returned to a big mudslide in Langley! The road was blocked and caused a traffic delay but the wait time allowed for people to enjoy enjoy the sun while playing on the beach.
Sunday, March 17th, 2013
Spring has sprung, Daffodils are blooming, and wildlife is abundant!
It was a nice day today with calm seas, sunshine, and a couple light spring rainshowers, plus 3 large Gray Whales and several Bald Eagles put smiles on everyone's faces and made for a Happy St. Patricks Day! In addition to the wildlife sightings we had today, we have had a perfect start to our Gray Whale season; our sightings include Harbor Seals and Porpoise playing off our bow, California Sea Lions lazily lounging-around as others were breaking and rolling in the water below, and good bird life including our famous Bald Eagles and regal Blue Herons. Today we chose to head towards the whales that were reported to have been in the Gedney/Hat Island area (several reports had come in this morning, some of which proved not to be true), but we were lucky and got to visit with 2 large males for over an hour! It was a good show with lots of rolling and many tail shots. Then just as we were about to head back to port a third Gray Whale came over to join the show. Yay! Can't wait till next weekend!
Saturday, March 16th, 2013
What an incredible variety of weather today; we had morning fog and afternoon sun with wind, rain and calm seas in between. Thanks to a good-natured, hardy group of people onboard, we had an enjoyable day. We visited with 2 large male Gray Whales off of Camano Head and there were a couple others reported off of the east end of Gedney. Crossing our fingers for more good luck tomorrow on St Paddy's day :)
Friday, March 15th, 2013
WHALES, WHALES, WHALES!!!
We saw a total of 7 Gray Whales in 4 separate groups today! Our first were 2 big bulls right out of Langley . . . we saw lots of tails and watched them surface and roll, exposing all of the gray and white patches, scars, and barnacles that covered their dark skin. We cruised alongside them across to Camano Head, and then headed up into Tulalip Bay where we found two more; a smaller juvenile male with a large bull. With most of the day left for more wildlife watching, we crossed over to Gedney Island and found yet 2 more!! And just when we thought we had had the most Gray Whale sightings we could ask for, we saw yet another Gray Whale just south of Sandy Point. Overall it was a great day to be out on the water with calm seas and good weather for wildlife viewing. We would like to thank our nice group onboard, it was a fun day together! Captain Monte and crew are looking forward to another good day tomorrow.
Sunday, March 10, 2013
"Fantastic! Great friendly crew, absolutely awesome experience!"
~ Mary Ann Evango, Mystic Sea facebook fan, Sunday, March 10
Welcome back, Patch! Today we were excited to see our good old friend, Patch the Gray Whale, return to the area with two of her 'not-so-little' buddies...all measuring about 50 feet in length and weighing about 30 tons. It was an impressive scene and great show! We found these three east of Gedney Island in calm waters. The weather cooperated all day with broken cloud cover and no wind.
Saturday, March 9, 2013
"Great customer service and an amazing experience!"
~ Jill Murray, Mystic Sea Facebook fan, Saturday, March 9
"Saturday, March 9th, was an awesome day to be out on the water with Mystic Sea Charters. Thanks to all of the crew for a lovely day."
~ Elizabeth Roenigk Short, Mystic Sea Facebook fan
Sunshine again today! This morning we cruised across to Camano Island and were heading over to Gedney Island in search of Gray Whales when we received a report of Transient Orcas moving northbound towards Deception Pass. We just couldn't resist that kind of interesting news and decided that we just had to go check those guys out as they are even BIGGER than our Resident Orca Whales! Being the meat-eaters of the bunch, they are often cool to watch during feeding mode because they will eat everything from seals and sea lions to porpoises and dolphins. These Transients move up and down the coast and are rarely seen in the same place very often, so we were in for a treat. We were heading towards Indian Beach when we came across 7 Transient Orcas. Two of them were large bulls (identified as T-20 and T-21) and one of them had a dorsal fin that must have been almost 7 feet tall! We spent over an hour with them and we were lucky enough to see the whales make a couple of kills which is always exciting. Great show today!
Click here to see our new 2013 photos on our Facebook page:
Friday, March 8, 2013
We had a fantastic welcome to our 2013 Gray Whale season. One couldn't ask for any more than a beautiful sunny day, lots of wildlife, whales, and a full boat with weather that allowed everyone to be outside! In just under 3 hours we departed from the Port of Langley and cruised down to Hat Island, over towards Camano, and then across towards Tulalip and Port Susan before returning to Langley. We saw some adorable little seals and porpoises and even spotted a couple of big Bald Eagles. Many people aboard the got the perfect, classic photos of Gray Whale tails as they surfaced several times on their way into the delta. All aboard the Mystic Sea for another great whale season!
October 6, 2012
Another outstanding trip today, 2nd to last day for the season, with clear skies and calm seas again. We headed off in search of a Humpback whale, reported to have been seen near Canadian waters, but upon hearing that Transient whales had been spotted, we diverted towards Darcy Island instead. We arrived on scene and found 6-8 whales, including two youngsters. The T049A’s were identified, and it was most likely the T036A’s were with them. The two smaller members - T049A2 born in 2007, and T049A3, born in 2011, were very visible, almost leaping alongside the adults. They were traveling slowly, surfacing 4-5 times, then diving for 4-5 minutes. We had some outstanding views of them with the sun glimmering on the glassy waters. On our return trip, much to everyone’s delight, some Dall’s porpoise chose to escort us for a mile or two. You have to smile when you see these guys, they just make you feel happy when they bow ride and dart all around the boat, it appears that they too are really enjoying themselves. Then off to Whale Rocks to view the ever-magnificent Steller Sea Lions. One of the Stellers was branded, and after some sleuthing, I found out he was born at St. George Reef in California (the “Y” was the giveaway!). Fun to know. We spotted Bald Eagles, Harbor Porpoise and Harbor Seals on our return trip to Anacortes. Thank you Monte and Tom for such a great day!
October 1, 2012
Orcas Orcas Orcas!! Well the orcas were the show of the day today. We had a report that a pod of orcas were out near Turn Point and we headed straight for them. When we reached them they had travelled most of the way to Sydney BC. and were already into the Channel Islands.
It is always beautiful over in that area and we found a great show of a group of about 6 Transient Orcas, feeding and breaching and playing in this awesome fall weather. Wish all orca shows could be like this one was today! We had spy hops, tail slaps, lots of breaches, and my favorite part ~ seeing them feeding on seals and porpoise.
We had plenty of time for great pics and loved the grand tour of all the major islands in the San Juans.
September 30, 2012
It is remarkable how calm it has been recently. So many days like this in a row has been a real treat for us in the whale watching industry, and this was a Minke day like no other. We went to the south end of Salmon Bank and found a large group of Minke whales all feasting on the abundance of feed in the area at this time of the year. It was a great show with whales lunging on the bait balls in all directions. The bird action was also very impressive.
From there we headed towards Middle Bank and found what we were looking for. Two separate groups of Dall's Porpoise and the wonderfully playful Pacific White Sided Dolphin. They played on our bow and surfed in our wake, showing off their amazing skills and intelligence. These guys have always been one of our favorites due to their interaction with the boat and how comfortable they are with getting super close, making for wonderful photos. When they are breaching on the bow it's like you can reach out and touch them! Hope to see these groups a few more times before this season is over.
September 29, 2012
Minke whales, transient orcas, harbor porpoise, harbor seals and bald eagles - we were lucky to see them all today! After breaking through early morning fog, we came across two Minke whales off Salmon Bank, one of their favorite feeding spots, as we headed towards Victoria, Canada, to check out a report of Transient Orcas eating a marine mammal. Sure enough, we came across six or seven of the ocean's top predators, including a couple of youngsters, traveling together in a tight group. The weather was perfect with calm seas and late summer sunshine - and the bonus of yet another Minke whale sighting on our return to Anacortes . . . and the season is not quite over yet!
September 27, 2012
Today started out with a small amount of fog and the air was really still. As we left down Guemes channel the visibility opening up to over a mile and the sun was burning through already. We had reports that the resident orcas were headed south along San Juan Island so we decided to head directly towards Davidson Rock.
It was another day of glassy conditions in the Sound and we had near-perfect visibility. By the time we reached the whales they were off of Hein Bank and very spread out. It was great to see them feeding freely on salmon since the runs had been so slow this year. Such a great day for viewing since they could be seen in all directions, socializing and eating.
September 23, 2012
The weather and whales are still hanging with us. We had another incredible day with a super pod again. All three of the resident orca pods were together on the west side of San Juan island.
We did one of my favorite routes through the San Juan's. Going through the middle of all of the islands and particularly the best part is Pole Pass. Such a beautiful area and a great time of the year. We caught up with them near Battleship Island north of San Juan. There we had some of the best feeding shows of the year so far. Great to see the Bulls showing off and performing for the girls. Another great day on the Mystic Sea.
September 22, 2012
Today started out a little cloudy, but by lunch time it was sunny with clear, calm water. We got a report that whales were spotted off the west side of San Juan Island and headed out right away.
We were excited to welcome aboard Sandra Pollard-Snowberger, a guest marine naturalist from Beach Watchers. She is full of interesting facts and useful information about the marine life in the area and is a great addition to our team.
Just like the report suggested that we might, we caught up with the resident L pod on the west side of San Juan Islands. At least seven orcas were feeding along the beach while a research boat followed them closely attempting to attach a suction cup to one of the females. This was a perfect day to have a naturalist on board. Sandra explained to our guests what the researchers were doing and why and told fun facts about a specially trained research dog who's only mission is to watch out for a whale poop.
It was a good show but the day got even better. While we followed the L pod towards Canadian waters we noticed another group of whales coming our way. They were members of the J pod and once they joined with our friends that's when the real show started. Watching ten orcas swimming along the beach, feeding and playing was amazing. There were breaches, several cartwheels by one of the youngsters, and then a spyhop!
Leaving the group behind we took a scenic route home, stopping by Whale Rocks to take a look at the Steller Sea Lions. You can always count on those guys to display their power and bad manners by growling and body slamming . . . which means more fun for us!
A long stretch of islands nearby were covered in Harbor Seals just laying around soaking up the sun, watching us go by.
What a great show and a beautiful day on the water.
September 20, 2012
From dense morning fog to glorious afternoon sunshine, we experienced such an interesting and dynamic day! When we first arrived on scene, we had to find the whales in the fog as they were spread between Eagle Point and Hein Bank off the southwest side of San Juan Island. This was no easy task but it was fun because it felt like such an adventure . . . a tracking game with a mysterious feel to it!
Soon after we found several members of K pod milling around (including K-12 and K-26), patches of blue sky and sunshine started to peep through, as if the curtains were pulled just for our show. We definitely caught some mating action going on between members of J and K pods!
Our adventure didn't stop there because we also got to see a large group of amazingly-huge Steller Sea Lions grunting and growling at each other as they fought for their space on Whale Rocks. We even saw two big bulls start to bite and lunge at each other, lips snarled and teeth showing! By the time we were cruising back through the small islands and rockpiles off the south side of Lopez Island we were soaking up warm sunshine and blue skies. Near Castle Rock we were treated to a low-swooping Bald Eagle and a beautiful Great Blue Heron perched on some Bull Kelp, perhaps just waiting for his next meal of Candlefish. Soon after that, we saw a multitude of Harbor Seals, finishing off our day perfectly. Who could ask for a more beautiful day in the Pacific Northwest?!?
September 18, 2012
Given our ideal tide conditions our morning whale report (reading: 25+ Transient Orcas near Crescent Bay heading East at speed), meant that we had a fairly long run out to the Straight of Juan de Fuca, but we knew that as long as the whales didn't turn or stop coming towards us, we would be able to reach them.
Making over 16 knots with the ebb tide pushing us down through Rosario Straights and out towards Victoria B.C., we kept our fingers crossed that the whales would stay on course . . . along the way we saw a Steller Sea Lion surface and we also paused briefly near Colville Island to watch as a low-swooping Cormorant startled 10 Harbor Seals, causing them to all hop into the water at once.
After a beautiful morning cruise in perfectly calm, glassy conditions we made it to the Transients!! We paralleled them for what seemed like hours, watching eagerly as they surfaced simultaneously, in large tight groups. We must have had at least 12 to 15 Orcas all surfacing, blowing and diving at once! The best part of the day was after most of the other boats decided to leave and look elsewhere for whales, we were left cruising alongside the whales who seemed to be continuing east, when all of a sudden a BIG bull popped up right next to us! Within moments, 8 more whales had altered their course as well and were heading straight for us! Our engines were shut off, so as not to disturb them, which made for a magical moment as we all listened to their breathing. We were also lucky see two baby whales, one still with quite a bit of rusty-orange colored staining on him.
We couldn't have asked for more perfect water and weather conditions today. On our way back to Anacortes we also saw dozens of Harbor Porpoise breaching, more adorable seals on Colville, and a Great Blue Heron back in the marina. What a Super Sunny September!
September 17, 2012
Trifecta! That's the best way to describe a trip like today. The Mystic Sea did a private lunch cruise which included fresh dungeness crab, perfect weather, and resident orcas breaching near the boat. That is a trifecta any day in my book.
Normally on a trip like this we might go through the islands and see beautiful sights in protected waters for such a formal catering. Today was an exception. Due to the perfect weather and flat calm seas we were able to meet up with the resident orcas off of Deception Pass. The guests were excited to be able not only enjoy fine food and wine, but also see the resident J, K and L pod members.
We always have a great time with this charter and are looking forward to many more summers to come. Thanks for this years memories!!
September 16, 2012
The Residents are back!! After not having the Resident Orcas in the Sound for a bit they came back in force today. We had reports that all 3 pods were heading north up the west side of San Juan island in the morning and the excitement among the guests and crew couldn't be contained.
We started off the morning by heading up the east side of Guemes island and it was beautiful. We paused for a little while to check out one of the largest Cormorant rookeries in the San Juans. Its pretty amazing to see that they raise their young in nests in the cracks of cliffs like that. We then continued north up Rosario Straight to the east side of Orcas Island, were we rounded the point and found a large male Steller Sea Lion eating a salmon. Those guys are Huge! 2400 lbs of attitude!
We proceeded northwest around Sucia, past the light house on Patos, and then turned north towards Point Roberts. About 5 miles north of East Point was where we found our Orcas and it was an incredible sight. J pod was all grouped up and traveling fast. The rest of the whales were another mile ahead of us and we even had yet another group a bit behind. We had incredible lighting with clear, deep blue autumn skies, making for great viewing conditions. The coolest part of all was that Mount Baker was right behind the whales so we had many post card-like pictures!
September 15, 2012
Another beautiful day on the water. Looks like we might keep this summer weather at least till the end of the month. We started out by heading towards the Straight of Juan de Fuca again, but we had just got out of Rosario Straight when we spotted our first whales. We came upon a research vessel that was studying Minke whales feeding on some bait balls. It was a fantastic show but we had no idea what was still in store for us. On the way we stopped by Whale Rocks and there was a large group of Stellar sea lions basking in the sun. They are always a treat when they are around. Crazy to imagine they out size even an Elephant Seal!
From there we headed out to the Straight only to come across more Minke Whales and the stars of today's show, the Dall's Porpoise and the Pacific White Sided Dolphin. While we made figure eight turns the dolphins and the porpoise breached and surfed along our bow and in our wake. It was fantastic to see these breeds together and in such a close proximity to the boat. It felt like any of us could just reach out and touch them. I'm looking forward to the next time we come across these guys again!
Photography credit: Jill Hein
September 14, 2012
Beautiful day! It was warm and clear as a bell . . . perfect for our cruise out toward the Straight of Juan de Fuca, where we had a nice Humpback show. We found a very large female (40+ ft. !!) and a juvenile right by her side, both rolling and breaking and giving us great tail shots. We could look across to the Dungeness Lighthouse and could see all the way out the straights towards Neah Bay, clear on both the Canadian and American sides. It was a long run, but so completely worth it. On our return to Anacortes we were treated to a great show of Dall's Porpoise, following alongside the boat and playing across the bow!
September 12, 2012
Super heavy-duty Steller!
Today we were treated to an impressive show watching this Steller Sea Lion grunt, growl, and pose for photos all by himself on Bird Rocks. . . perfect afternoon entertainment after a yummy Crab Feed on the Mystic Sea!
Photo credit: Leizel Yaeger, Living Liquid Art
September 10, 2012
Another beautiful calm day for our Crab Feed and wildlife cruise . . . especially because the route we chose was protected from all wind and choppy seas. We cruised north around the back side of Guemes Island, past Sinclair, and down through the scenic Cone Islands, seeing Bald Eagles, Blue Herons, Cormorants, and the always-adorable Harbor Seals. We are looking forward to more great weekend whale watching cruises this Friday, Saturday and Sunday, as reports came in last night that our Resident Orcas are on the west side of San Juan Island.
Mermaid Rock, photo credit: Leizel Yaeger, Seal photo credit: Tracy Merrick
September 9, 2012
Today we had a fantastic day meeting transient orcas starting at the Barnes and Clark Islands near the north end of Orcas Island. We followed them to my favorite island, Sucia, where the whales don't often travel to! Our onboard Naturalist, Jill Hein was able to ID several of them, T18, T19, T19B, taking long dives, but they didn't appear to be hunting or anything. It was a great treat for the crew as well as the family that was on board who's parents used to own the island and gave it to the state back in the seventies. It was their first time back and I am so glad that we got to treat them to such a visit. Great day with the transients and an incredible day with the guests. Photo credit: Jill Hein
September 8, 2012
This morning we headed through San Juan channel to Cattle Point Lighthouse where we met up with a Minke whale that was traveling out towards Salmon Bank. We followed him around for a bit of a show and later proceded to Whale Rocks. There on the rocks was a multitude of Steller Sea Lions enjoying the last bit of a North West sun. Such perfect weather for a wildlife cruise through the San Juan Islands.
Sea Lion photo credit: Leizel Yaeger, Minke photo credit: Lyall Bishop
September 6, 2012
So happy to have our Resident Orcas back . . . and mating too!
This morning the hydrophones at Lime Kiln on the west side of San Juan Island picked up Orcas heading north towards Turn Point. In order to catch them, we cruised straight through the middle of the islands and up into Canadian waters, where we met up with members from J and K pods heading towards Active Pass. It was a long run to and from our whale show, but completely worth it, as we had an incredible show. Over 20 full breaches, 50 tail lobs, a lot of mating, and some porpoising action, where they skim across the surface of the water at high speeds! We were able to get a positive ID on several of them, including J34 Double Stuf
J27 Blackberry, and J22 Oreo. Check out these cool photos taken by Kelvin Beaton, Kelvin's Photography 2012
September 5, 2012
Upon hearing reports of a group of Transient Orcas heading north from Constance Bank (just south of Victoria BC), we knew we were going to cover a lot of mileage over the course of this beautiful day day. We headed directly south towards the southern tip of Lopez Island where we saw a nice large group of Harbor Seals basking in the sun, then continued west towards a new, closer location of a second group of Transients; starting at Bellvue point on the southwest side of San Juan Island, the game was on...we cut between Henry Island and San Juan, through a very picturesque but also very narrow and shallow channel that dumped us out in Roche Harbor and then out in Spieden Channel.
Soon afterwards we were treated to a fantastic show of about 10 Orcas in feeding mode, and no joke, we had the largest Transient Orca bulls of all! Right off the bat our whale show opened with a nice high spyhop showing his GIANT blowhole and then a kill which left a 20ft long blood-red streak in the tumultuous water! They had most likely killed a Harbor Porpoise for lunch judging by their speedy movements. We stayed with them and watched them feed, play, and dive and after a nice sunny and relaxing Orca show we returned to Anacortes via Pole Pass and Thatcher Pass, through the middle of the islands. We had fantastic views of Mount Baker, 10,781 ft. and still covered in glaciers, as well as a nice shot of a bald eagle perched on a snag on Shaw Island. Although we still had beautiful warm weather, we could definitely feel some crisp fall air starting to set in as well, reminding us of how nice it is to have such pleasant maritime seasons here in western Washington!
Whale photo credit: Deb Kelley Blue Heron photo credit: Leizel Yaeger
September 2, 2012
We headed out through the center of the islands today, another perfect-weather day! Around 12:30 we received reports of transient orcas near Sidney and took off in search of the whales. Along the way we passed Speiden Island, Stewart Island and Gooch Island and ended up finding ourselves a group of Transient Orcas very close to Copper Reef off of Sidney in Canada. We had a great show of transient whales, they were very active as they feasted on salmon around our boat! We spent an hour or so watching the whales, before we had to start heading back. On the way back however, we had some more great views of some harbor seals and their growing seal pups, along with some bald eagles overhead.
September 1, 2012
What a perfect way to start September - and a great event for the holiday weekend! The Mystic Sea followed reports of whales on past the Patos Island light house, enjoying all that the islands had to offer, harbor seals, eagles, fanstastic views of the mountains and of course, that indian summer sunshine! When we reached Waldron, we were greeted by a huge group of orcas, including members from a few different pods. We had an estimated seventy to eighty orcas in the area! We witnessed a phenomenal show of many breaches, pectoral fin slaps, tail flaps and spyhops. We were able to spend quite a bit of time with the whales, before starting our leisurely trip back to the marina in the afternoon sunshine. It was the perfect day!
August 31, 2012
Clip from "Orca Network":
'Mystic Sea' went the distance to Tsawwassen ferry dock, BC, to spend time with members of J pod enjoying the Fraser River salmon. Active whales traveling at speed among the whitecaps - and little J49 knows how to breach...
Sandra Pollard, Freeland, Whidbey Island
Today we had reports of two groups of whales headed northbound and southbound. The first group was headed south to Hein Bank and the second group was headed north towards Point Roberts. We left the marina in beautiful, sunny weather, and searched and searched for the whales up north. After a few hours, we heard reports of the southbound whales headed north towards us! We finally crossed paths with the whales up near the Frasier River all the way up in Canada. Going the extra distance really paid off however! We had an incredible show with rolls, deep dives followed by high breaches! Captain Monte suspects that once the whales hit the fresh water of the Frasier River, the whales start breaching like mad! All in all, we covered about 110 miles today - well worth it.
August 28, 2012
Today Mystic Sea headed inner-island, up through the beautiful San Juans. The weather was overcast, but warm - the best whale watching conditions! Along the way, we saw a couple of bald eagles, and then some seals hauled out on the rocks with their cute seal pups! Before long, we were on scene with the tough and mighty Transient Orcas! About 6 or 7 transient orcas were located between Eagle Point and Discovery Island. They were swimming about - making kills on salmon. We also had 2 big bulls. The Bulls grow up to be approximately 35' long, and can weigh up to 20,000 pounds! It was great to watch, many passengers snapped some awesome photographs! Ended the day with a calm trip in the warm, ocean air.
August 27, 2012
Mystic Sea headed west through the Guemes Channel today, then up past Orcas and Lummi Island in the sunshine! We were able to find the majority of all THREE pods in Georgia Straits. Members J, K and L-Pod were present with the Mystic Sea today and we had approximately 80 orcas stretched out between Cherry Point, and Point Roberts. What an incredible day!
August 26, 2012
Today we took off the dock in sunshine and calm waters. We set out through Rosario Straits, past Castle Rock and Davison Rock, and found L-Pod near Eagle Point! We followed the whales and watched them closely on to False Bay. We ended up seeing 2 full breaches from the big bull in L-Pod! It's unusual for the bulls to breach fully out of the water, so that was a real treat. We had a great show in some great weather! There were also reports of K-Pod and J-Pod in the area, so that means we have all 3 pods in the area, great way to start the week!
August 25, 2012
Great day today - we only traveled about 20 minutes outside of Anacortes before finding the Transient Orca Whales. Since we found them pretty early-on, we were able to spend a bit more time with them than we sometimes get to when they are further out in the Sound. The transient whales are typically more aggressive than the resident orcas. Yesterday the whales were lunging at, and feeding on salmon in the water, they were very excited and active! We were able to spend about an hour and a half to two hours with them, before continuing on to find some other San Juan wildlife. We traveled on past Cypress and Blakely Island - spotting eagles and porpoises along the way! Incredible sunshine reflected off the glossy water and kept our passengers nice and warm today. After a while, we looped around and were able to spot the Transient orcas again as they finished off their meal!
August 22, 2012
Today we set out on our Brunch and Lunch private charter whale watching excursion! Pefect weather for it too, after the overcast day yesterday, it was great to have our late-summer sunshine back again. We departed early today at 8 am, and it wasn't long before Monte and his crew (and the passengers too!) were able to locate some resident orcas. We saw the first few members of J-pod near Iceberg Point off the South end of Lopez Island, and continued to follow them west, towards San Juan Island. They were very active, displaying their fins and lots of breaches. They were making salmon kills too - yum! As we drew closer to San Juan Island, we also encountered L-Pod, and what we suspect were members of K-Pod! All in all we were able to watch approximately 60-90 orcas today. Currently headed back inner island towards the marina!
August 20, 2012
Lots of sunshine today! We headed out in some light clouds, that soon burnt off into the brilliant blue sky! We had our resident K-Pod orcas put on a great show for us today in the calm, sparkling water. The Mystic Sea tagged along with the whales from Andrews Bay, past Lime Kiln Lighthouse, and on to False Bay. After we left the whales, Captain Kent was able to swing us around and see some Steller Sea Lions on the way back to port! Fabulous day, and we're expecting another one tomorrow!
August 19, 2012
The whales were tricky to find today as they were playing a little hide and seek for some of the whale watching companies in the San Juans. Captain Monte however was able to locate them and show our passengers a great time! We were able to see the transient whales today near Sand Point. Transient whales are known to be more violent to their prey than the resident orca whales. The passengers aboard the Mystic Sea were able to look on as the transients feasted on some salmon and splash around showing off some breaches and rolls!
August 15, 2012
Minkes, Orcas, Sea Lions, Seals, Bald Eagles, and so much more!
We all had a good feeling right out of the gates today...warm and sunny in the marina with a blue heron perched on a piling and some close up Harbour Seals basking on the rocks in Guemes Channel. After passing the cool rock formations on the southern end of Lopez where we saw two different Bald Eagles perched in their gigantic nests, we quickly arrived on scene to witness a fantastic Minke Show about a mile off of Iceberg Point. We saw at least two or three Minke Whales lunge feeding and breaching, exposing their white corrugated underbellies to all of us onboard. One gave us and especially close pass, making for a very special and unusual experience! After that we headed north up to Whale Rocks and spent some time watching the giant Steller Sea Lions basking in the midday sun before continuing up to East Sound, Orcas Island, where we were the first whale watching boat on scene. Starting out with some wild splashing and tumultous waters, we knew right away that the Transient Orcas had just made a kill. Soon after, we saw the blood in the water and could see two of the larger bulls tossing a seal back and forth (sad but nature). We identified the Transients as being the T36 and T37 pods. They seemed to be so excited to be in such warm waters brought on by the Red Tide...or maybe they were just showing off their kill. Either way, they were tail slapping like it was going out of style and making full breaches over and over again! Breathtaking show and impeccable weather!
August 12, 2012
No fog today, we had sunshine from beginning to end! We headead south, under the San Juan Islands and ended up at the southern point of San Juan Island. We discovered J-Pod (with the new baby!) at False Bay. We heard reports of L-Pod at the Lime Kiln Lighthouse, and then K-Pod at Stewart Island. Our captain Monte was able to find all three pods and we were able to spend time with all of them; second super-pod day in a row! On our way back into the harbor, we had a great show of Steller Sea Lions on Whale Rocks, the sea lions had returned from the Bering Sea. Those creatures are huge! Such a great day out on the Mystic Sea today.
August 11, 2012
Today we had all three pods! We set out in some heavy fog and it lingered as we traveled through Rosario Straits. By the time we got inner island, the fog had lifted and we had great weather once again. We found J, K and L Pods along the south end of San Juan Island. We followed the whales along to Lime Kiln Light House and were lucky enough to spend a half hour with the new baby J-49. The gender of the new baby is still unknown, but boy is it cute. We watched as the mom nudged the baby along, teaching it to hunt for salmon and not be shy. The new baby will not be named until it is one year old, unfortunately baby orcas have a mortality rate of 50%. But we're all rooting for this little one!
August 10, 2012
Today the Mystic Sea headed inner-island to the heart of the San Juan Islands. Beautiful weather that day, sunshine and a light, sea breeze. We found our resident orcas off of Battleship Island and followed them towards Stewart Island Light House. They gave us a fantastic show (as always!) for everyone on board, I hope our passengers were able to get some great pictures! After spending some time with the whales, the group of orcas split up - some headed towards Boundary Channel, and the others headed in the direction of Swanson Channel. On our way back to the harbor, we spotted tons of birds including puffins, blue herons, pigeon guillemots (there's a great photo of a pigeon guillemot on our facebook page!). We went past the back side of Orcas, Speiden and Guemes Island. So beautiful!
August 9, 2012
Fantastic summer days on the water with all three pods of Orcas putting on great shows! Over the past couple of days we have seen an incredible variety of wildlife; in addition to our Resident Orcas up near Battleship Island, back with their new little calf, J49 (only a few days old), and the Minke and Humpback whales spread between Smith Island and Salmon Bank, we have also spotted:
1 Red Tail Hawk, 2 Belted Kingfishers, 2 Pereguine Falcons and 4 Turkey Vultures, near the shoreline on the southern end of Lopez Island. We saw 2 Tufted Puffins fishing near Minor Island and 5 Bald Eagles perched on the driftwood near Smith Island. Countless Harbor Seals and their cute little pups were basking on Colville and Swirl Rocks, 4 giant Stellar Sea Lions were hauled out on Whale Rocks, and multitudes of Harbor Porpoise were swimming in Rosario Straights. . . two of which kept surfacing in tandem as they followed alongside out boat as if they were in an aquarium show! We also saw a little Red Deer resting peacefully in the late afternoon on the grassy knolls just above the water off of Lopez and some Mouflon Deer on Speiden Island in the northern San Juan area. We topped off a great day with a friendly Blue Heron posing for pictures on our dock. How much more could we ask for?!? Oh, and lets not forget that gorgeous weather we have been having....Summertime, Wooohooo!
August 7, 2012
We had our orcas back in the San Juans today! First off, we began our trip off in sunshine and breaking clouds over the marina. We headed inner-island in search of the reported whales. After searching for a short while, we had whales between Battleship Island and the west side of Henry Island. They put on a great show for us, showing off their fins, flukes and even a few breaches! After about an hour or so, J-Pod split up and headed in separate directions; half headed north to the Frasier River, and the other half headed south to False Bay. We turned our boat around and Captain Monte was able to find us some seals again on Battleship Island, and we also saw some Doll Sheep on Spieden Island, and some Eagles flying above our ship! Great day on the Mystic Sea, and we're looking forward to another great day of orcas tomorrow!
August 4, 2012
Quintessential day of whales out on the Mystic Sea today. Even our naturalists and crew were blown away! First off, we left the harbor in cloudless skies and calm water with temperatures in the upper seventies and climbing. We headed first over to Salmon Bank - we had amazing views of Mount Baker, Mount Ranier, and the Olympic Peninsula. We were treated to a fantastic Minke show with 3 large Minke whales. Then we headed towards the Lime Kiln Light House and discovered a very large female humpback whale - measuring in at Fifty feet long! Much longer than your average orca whale. The passengers and crew observed 27 breaches and fin slaps, along with some picturesque fluke reveals. Fantastic day on the water - check out our facebook page for pictures!
August 3, 2012
We started off Southbound around the southern end of Lopez and across the water to San Juan Island. We couldn't have asked for better weather! Sunshine and warm temperatures, accompanied by the perfect, cooling breeze. Along the way in search of whales, we saw many seals hauled out on the rocks, enjoying the sunshine as much as we were! We were also treated to some views of eagles soaring overhead. It wasn't long before we spotted a few minkes, and then some large humpback whales! We had a great show of humpback whales, showing off their huge fins and tails. We followed the humpbacks around from San Juan Island to the northside of Pender Island. After enjoying a fantastic show of the humpbacks, we started back towards the harbor, Captain Monte took the boat past Orcas Island and on to the north end of Guemes. We went out far today to find the whales, but it was well worth it!
August 3, 2012
Wow, what an incredible day! Captain Monte Hughes, with over 20 years of experience, exclaimed that it was THE BEST HUMPBACK SHOW he has ever seen!
We were about a mile off of Eagle Point on the southwest side of San Juan Island, when the onboard Naturalists, Leizel and Carolyn, quickly identified the first whale as being a huge 35ft humpback! We were the very first boat on scene, and our first tail shot was followed by a couple of dorsal rolls and then another tail shot as the he dove to feed in the shallow waters. We thought that was a pretty nice showing for a creature that is usually very shy but little did we know, the show had barely even begun!
It was easy to follow alongside them at a respectful distance because the flocks of seabirds that were all clustered together feeding on the bait balls (groups of thousands of small fish swimming together), marked the spots where the whale was feeding as well. Soon after arriving on scene we realized that we were most likely seeing the same two humpbacks that we saw yesterday. We saw at least 30 more dorsal rolls, a couple of pectoral waves, a spy hop, and about 15-20 tail shots. The climax and finale of our show was when this majestic whale did two lunge feeds, one right after the other, coming up out of the water and showing about 1/3 of his body as he leapt for airborne birds! We were sitting in one place with out our engines shut off just drifting like a log, when he came so close that we could see the barnacles stuck to his nose and his throat bulging with feed, looking almost like a giant pelican’s gullet. Phenomenal!
As if that was not enough to make for a perfect sunny day on the water, we were treated to a fantastic show of other wildlife throughout the afternoon as well. Rounding the southern tip of Lopez Island we were engulfed by a thick layer of fog that had lifted no more than 20 feet off the water, but it was just enough to make for a very mysterious-feeling show of Harbor Seals and their pups. Some of them are still young enough at this time of year to be suckling from their mamas, but a lot of the babies are in their weaning stage and were hauled-out on the jagged rocks of Blind Island and Lummi Rocks.
On our way back north through the middle of the San Juan Islands we stopped at Whale Rocks and were treated with 3 beautiful blond Stellar Sea Lions (weighing up to 2000 lbs each!) playing in the water and more Harbor Seals basking in the afternoon sun. Then we circled around Deadmans Island and Shark Reef to see 3 bald eagles –2 mature adults and 1 younger eagle that was not yet old-enough to have the distinct white head. It was a picture-perfect scene as they were perched in the limbs at the top of a silvery-white dead snag with the bright blue sky as the backdrop. Altogether it was an amazing day with a fun group of people onboard!
July 31, 2012
Perfect weather for whale watching today. We started out through Rosario Strait and kept our eyes peeled for wildlife. At Salmon bank we had a group of Minke whales put on a great show for us! They were breaking water and making for tons of photo opportunities for the passengers aboard the Mystic Sea. In amongst the group of Minkes, we had a mother and baby minke - how sweet! On our way back in the warm afternoon sunshine, we stopped by Castle Rock to admire some lazy day seals lounging around, smiling at us as we passed by. Some passengers also spotted some bald eagles soaring overhead! As we came closer to the harbor, we were also able to pass by on the inside of Burrows Island, providing some great views of the Burrows Island Light House. Such a great day!
July 28, 2012
Today we didn't have to go far to find the first pod of whales - we headed out of the harbor in the sunshine and calm seas. We made our way to the beautiful Deception Pass where we first encountered J-Pod! We spent an hour with our resident orcas before moving on in hopes of finding another group of whales that had been reported in the area. It wasn't long before we came up on L-Pod at the southern end of Lopez Island. With L-Pod, we saw L-41 who showed us a phenomenal breach - it's really something to see one of those big bulls breach! After that, we continued even further to see if we could find one last pod - and we did! That's right folks, a SUPER POD DAY! We followed L-Pod as they led us to Cattle Point on the southern end of San Juan Island and encountered K-Pod! Altogether we had approximately 90 orcas today which is huge! What a lucky, beautiful day on the water with Mystic Sea Charters!
July 27, 2012
Today started out overcast and breezy, but warm. We decided again to go inner-island to find the whales! By the time we got inner island, the clouds cleared, but we still had some choppy water. We found our whales at Stewart Island Lighthouse - quite a combined view of both the light house and the whales! We followed the whales to South Pender and then down to Otter Bay. We were able to identify whales from J Pod, L Pod and we suspect there were whales from K Pod there as well! All three pods in the area is great news for whale watchers! Altogether, over a span of about 3 miles we had 50-60 orcas at one time. Such a great day!
July 26, 2012
Today started off with some morning fog on the water, so we decided to head inner-island. By the time we reached the center of the islands, the fog had lifted and revealed a blue sky with sunshine! We sailed across the southern end of San Juan Island and found our resident J and L Pods of orcas. They gave us a fantastic show of rolls, spyhops and tail flaps. We had the large bull orca Oreo surfacing often, giving our passengers many photo-opportunities! Plenty of sunshine and flat waters on our way back! Also reports of K-Pod in the area, meaning that we have all 3 pods locally right now!
July 21, 2012
Spectacular day out on the water today! We had an early morning report at 11am that the whales had been spotted at Boundary Pass and they were seen heading south. About the time we were halfway through our route inner-island, the whales had turned around and begun heading north - away from us! They were headed toward Active Pass in Canada. We eventually caught up with the whales at Enterprise Reef, and followed them through Active Pass. Active Pass is very far from where we start out at, but it is one of the most beautiful spots in the San Juans. Since it is so far, we only travel there about once a year, but it is always worth it! We followed J-Pod and parts of L-Pod through Active Pass as they swam around our boat, giving off a fantastic show in the sunny weather. On our way back, we took a unique route past the North side of the Canadian San Juans, the North side of Orcas Island, and back into Anacortes at 6pm. It was a long trip, about 100 miles, but it was absolutely worth it! Incredible day.
July 20, 2012
Today we started out in some low-laying clouds and sparse rain showers. The temperature and visibility were great though! We made our way through the Guemes Channel and around the southern end of Lopez Island. Along the way, we peeked into coves, spotting a few mommy and baby seals, and some purple and orange sea stars suctioned to the rocks! Those baby seals were so cute! After that, we were in hot pursuit of L-Pod whales on the South West side of San Juan Island. It wasn't too long before we spotted fins on the horizon right past Eagle Point! We had caught up with our resident L-Pod orcas, along with some members of J-Pod. The whales were sticking close to each other in a few groups around us. Blackberry decided to investigate the Mystic Sea and show us some of his tricks! We also got to see an orca family - the big momma, the even BIGGER daddy, and the little splishy-splashy baby! Very cute. We spent a long while with the whales before heading back to the harbor. And to our surprise, on the way back we were able to spot a HUGE California Sea Lion! Most of the Sea Lions have migrated south by this time of year, but this guy (much to our fortune!) must have missed the memo! It was a gray, beautiful day on the Mystic Sea full of tons of wildlife and fun!
July 19, 2012
Incredible day so far! Right now the Mystic Sea is on scene with ALL THREE PODS! That's J, K and L-Pod. They have J-Pod at Village Point off of Lummi Island, and K-Pod near the north end of Cypress Island. We have around 80 orcas showing off with breaches and swimming parallel with the boat! Incredible day so far, updates to follow! Did I mention beautiful weather?
July 18, 2012
Today, we set out in some overcast weather, but the fog was way above the water, so our visibility was pretty good. We decided to wait for the sunshine at Speiden Island. We slowed our motor near the island and watched as African Spotted Deer, Doll Sheep and Mongolian Deer moseyed about on the shore. All in all, we saw about 150 different animals on Spieden, from our boat! After the sun started peeking through, we started off inner-island, in search of whales! It wasn't long before we spotted J-Pod and L-Pod right off of Battleship Island which is off the north east corner of San Juan Island. We had a fantastic show of whales, today they were keeping in tight groups of about 20 orcas. We followed them to Turn Point Light House, and then on to South Pender. We bid our orcas farewell, and made our way back to port in the afternoon sunlight.
July 17, 2012
No fog today! It was a beautiful day through and through. We set out in the morning in 60 degree sunshine, and the temperature rose as the day went on. Today we had J-Pod and L-Pod all together right off of Henry Island. We witnessed a great show as we followed them south to False Bay. There, we were met by a large Minke whale! Quite a nice surprise. Contrary to popular belief, the larger minke whales are the females! Afterward, we made our way back to port in the warm afternoon, stopping to watch eagles soar, seals bark and porpoises swim around!
July 15, 2012
Today was a little overcast, but with warm temperatures. There was a great feeling in the air as the passengers boarded the Mystic Sea - ready to see some whales! We set out in calm seas and headed up to go inner-island; up through the middle of the San Juans! We arrived on scene with the whales about midday. We had J-Pod and some members of L-Pod right off of Salmon Bank on San Juan Island. We spent the majority of the afternoon with the whales - they were very active today! After circumnavigating Lopez Island, we headed back to Anacortes, again, with views of some cuddly harbor seals, seal pups and some bald eagles flying overhead, enjoying the fresh ocean air as much as we were!
July 14, 2012
Left the harbor in fog again today, but the temperature was warm and humid. The San Juans were quiet and still as we cruised along, it seemed as if we were the only boat out there! As the day continued on, the fog continued to clear, giving us better visibility - just in time too! With the help of a few other vessels, we located our orca whales just off of Burrows Island, very close to Anacortes. At that point in the day, the fog had burned off entirely entirely and we were able to catch a great show from the orcas! It was quite the spectacle! We followed the whales to San Juan Island and enjoyed picturesque viewes of the surrounding islands. Eventually we had to set our sights back on to the port, but we enjoyed the trip back with sitings of seals and bald eagles!
July 13, 2012
We had quite an unusual day today in regards to the weather . . . after cruising through thick fog with Harbor Porpoise playing alongside the boat we welcomed the sunshine, which came just in time for us to see the Orcas playing and feeding off of the southwest side of San Juan Island.
From a distance the bright-white fog bank against the deep blue sky behind made for a very dramatic background as thunder and lightning rolled through, making for a very exciting whale show! We identified a J-pod male named Oreo and saw several females, one youngster, and a few big bulls from both J-pod and L-pods, and even saw a female do a full breach.
On our way back around the south end of Lopez we stopped at Colville Island to check out the seals and also spotted an immature bald eagle (most likely the same one that we have been watching grow up after hatching in the Hughes Bay nest).
Before heading back to Anacortes we cruised over to the Burrows Island Lighthouse and up north through the Harbor Porpoise breeding area in Rosario Straights. Back at the dock our wildlife-viewing day was topped off perfectly with three adorable baby otters running along the breakwater!
July 12, 2012
Today we again began with some low-laying fog out on the water, but boy was it warm out even on the water! The Mystic Sea brought its passengers up through inner-island and by the time we got the the center of the San Juan Islands, not a cloud was in sight, and the fog had lifted completely! We encountered J-Pod and pars of L-Pod right near Battleship Rock! We had a great show as we traveled alongside them all the way around San Juan and Lopez Island. We left our whales at Eagle Point in hopes of spotting some seals and eagles on the way back!
July 11, 2012
Today on the Mystic Sea, we set out in some fog, which soon lifted to reveal beautiful blue skies and temperatures in the 70's! We found our resident J-Pod orcas near Eagle Point, they gave us lots of breaches, jumps and spyhops - such a great show. On our way back in the incredible sunshine, we cruised slowly on by the Burrows Island Lighthouse, and stopped to look at some cute little harbor seals, and also spotted some great bald eagles flying overhead! We hope everyone on board enjoyed this trip as much as we did!
July 9, 2012
Today the Mystic Sea took its passengers inner-island; up through the center of the San Juan Islands. We started the morning off with a little fog, but it lifted after a while. We discovered J-Pod at Cattle Point, and followed them all across the southern end of San Juan Island. We saw lots of breaching and jumping - amazing! After circumnavigating the island, we then dropped by Davison Rocks to see those friendly seals we love so much. Afterwards we headed into port in the late-afternoon sunshine!
July 8, 2012
Today was a nice and easy day with perfect weather and calm, flat waters again! We found J-Pod orcas near Point Roberts. They gave us a wonderful show of rolls, tail flaps and spyhops. On our way back to port, we passed Guemes Island and were able to see lots of seals absorbing the sunlight out on the rocks.
July 7, 2012
We encountered J-Pod and members of L-Pod near Eagle Point today, we followed them in the sunshine and calm water all the way to Lime Kiln Lighthouse. What a beautiful day! Perfect viewing conditions, PLUS our on-board naturalist Jill Hein was with us today, she is a member of Beach Watchers and was able to positively identify Granny! Granny is our oldest resident orca whale, she is 101 years old, and isn't spotted as much as she used to be, so we are very fortunate to see her!
July 4, 2012
Way to show your American pride! We had some people take advantage of our 4th of July Special with their American Flags. We hope you and everyone else had a great trip on Mystic Sea Charters!
July 3 2012
Today we took off in some rain and wind, but there was a patch of blue sky that we were determined to get under! We finally found some sunshine and calm waters, not too far away at Orcas Island. We sailed along to the west side of San Juan Island where we found J-Pod mingling with members of L-Pod. We had a great show of spyhops, a few breaches and some deep dives! The weather cooperated with us for the rest of the day as we spotted some eagles and seals on our way back, and it was smooth sailing back into port - no more wind! After the sun came out, it was an awesome day.
July 2, 2012
Today we found our beloved J-Pod near Pile Point. Along with them was Blackberry who is enormous! It's amazing he can breach with all of his blubber! We had a great show of whales along with a baby eagle we saw in its nest, being fed a fish by the mother eagle - yuck - but very cool to see for our passengers on the Mystic Sea! Also, just off of Colville, we had lots of harbor seals showing off their baby seal pups - how cute!
July 1, 2012
Today was a very straight-forward day. We had no challenge at all finding the whales. We identified members of J-Pod, and we suspected there to be members of K and L as well! We found them on Keller Bluff feeding on salmon and swimming around. We had a great show with the clouds clearing in the afternoon! Check out our Facebook fan page for pictures!
June 30, 2012
Today was a huge day for wildlife, we had everything from whales to sheep! We started the day by heading up through the middle of the San Juan Islands and first encountered whales at Battleship Island northwest of San Juan Island. We had all of J-Pod and eventually some bull males from L-Pod swam up alongside us to hang out with the J-Pod whales. We followed these guys past the Stewart Island Lighthouse, and past south Pender Island, until we finally stopped at Spieden. It was there that we were able to spy some dull-horn rams with full curled horns, we also had some African-Spotted Deer and Mongolian Deer. Also that day we had a multitude of Bald Eagles and Auklets!
June 29, 2012
Today was a gorgeous day from the get-go. Plenty of sunshine and a refreshing marina breeze. We eventually encountered J-Pod off of Eagle Point on the Southern Point of San Juan Island. They put on a great show for us as we followed them along to Lime Kiln Light House. We spotted a big variety of other wildlife along the way back, including Bald Eagles, Harbor Seals, Auklets (a marine bird) and a group of Deer on Castle Rock on Lopez. Great day!
June 28, 2012
Today was an incredible day out on the water! We departed at 11am with reports of whales off of Burrows Island which is less than a half-hour sail from Anacortes. Sure enough! Within half an hour we were with the whales - J-Pod! We floated alongside them as they made their way towards Lopez Island and between Castle Rock and Davison Island. We then had a few of the bulls from L-Pod join up, we follwed them to Salmon Bank on San Juan Isand. After our time with the orcas, we then spotted some Minke whales and enjoyed a great show from them! After that, we decided to make our way back to port, but soon after, we had yet another report of whales that was too good to pass up! We did a little back-tracking and caught up with 9 more orcas from J-Pod at Bird Rocks. The weather was warm and overcast, but great visibility. We enjoyed clear views of both Mt. Baker, the Olympic Peninsula, and of course our lovely whale friends! It was a perfect day.
June 27, 2012
What a beautiful day! Sunny morning, sunny midday, sunny afternoon! Today the Mystic Sea headed out into flat calm waters in the sunshine in search of the whales. We knew their location, and it was just a matter of catching up with them! Along the way, we stopped to look at some smiley harbor seals, we also had some porpoises pointed out, along with bald eagles! We then made our way over to the South-West side of San Juan Island to Eagle Point. It was there that we found our friendly J-Pod. They were loving the sunshine as much as we were, they gave us lots of breaches, rolls and tail flaps, it was an incredible show, and then most of L-Pod swam over to join them! All in all it was a picture-perfect day on the Mystic Sea! When we began heading back, the whales started north, so we know just were to find 'em for tomorrow's trip!
June 25, 1012
The most breaches we've ever experienced in one day! A breach is where the orca jumps completely out of the water. We encountered multiple groups of orcas over the course of the entire day. We first encountered them near Lawson Reef, just southwest of Anacortes - very close to where the trip started. We then followed them to Smith Island. Later on in the day, we came across a group of what we think were L-Pod members. Over the rest of the sunny day, we also enjoyed sights of eagles, seals and porpoises soaking up this beautiful sunshine!
June 24, 2012
The sunshine found its way back through the clouds and shone on us today as we motored on through the inside of the San Juan Islands. Today we had our resident J-Pod whales at the Turn Point Lighthouse on Stewart Island. We followed J-Pod down to South Pender. We also had plenty of seals and eagles today - follow the Facebook link below and like our page to see the beautiful photos!
Plenty of fantastic new photos from naturalists and passengers have been uploaded to our Facebook page!
June 23, 2012
Today we got reports of orcas much closer than we were anticipating - what a treat! We found our orcas right off of Eagle Point and they put on a great show for us in the sunshine. The group of orcas stretched all the way down to Pile Point. Also today we were able to spot about six to eight bald eagles, one great big steller sea lion, and lots of porpoises and seals that had come back out to play after the events of the last few days. Great trip today!
June 22, 2012
Today was drizzly and overcast, but there was no wind so the sea was flat, calm and quiet. Today was a great day for wildlife, we had our resident J-Pod whales over on the west side of San Juan Island right around Pile Point. After spending time with the Pod, we then encountered the large bull from L-Pod swimming along with three females near Eagle Point. After a while, we started back towards the marina through Thatcher Pass but not before we spotted some aggressive looking transient whales swimming around near Lawson Rock. We were admiring some seals laying out on the rocks when we noticed a very large, fat seal close to the water's edge. No sooner had we noticed it, than a big transient whale decided to snatch up that seal right off the rock and in no time, the transients were feasting on lunch. This was a great way for our passengers to see first-hand the difference between the resident and the transient orcas. The residents are fish-eaters, and the transients are the more aggressive whales eating not only fish, but seals and porpoises as well. Transients are what give orcas the Killer Whale nickname. Right before pulling into the marina near Fidalgo Head, we spotted a little coyote down on the rocks sniffing about - it was so cute! It was a great learning experience and wildlife show out there today! We encourage passengers on todays trip to upload any photos from the boat!
June 21, 2012
We ran into the majority of J-Pod on this fine, sunny day, near Battleship Rock on the north side of San Juan Island. We also had orcas today near Turn Point off of Stewart Island! Then after that, we ran into a third group of orcas (about 5-7 transient orcas) in San Juan Channel. The large male bull orca T-30 made an appearance, his distinguishing features include a length of approx. 35 feet, a weight of 25 tons, and a 6-7' dorsal fin. All the orcas today were feeding on seals or porpoise, but we were also able to see some fully intact seals and porpoises along the rest of our trip in the sunshine!
June 19, 2012
We didn't have to go far to locate the whales today! We were surprised to find our beloved J-Pod right in Deception Pass off of Deception Island! Lots of breaching and jumping. We spent lots of time with the whales before they headed in the direction of South Lopez. After that, we had plenty of time left over to take a leisurely sight-seeing trip through deception pass and around some of the other San Juan Islands. Sunny weather, flat calm waters - perfect!
June 18, 2012
Today was a SUPER POD day! A super pod is when we have all 3 pods in one day. We found L-Pod and whales from K-Pod near the southern point of Lopez, and followed them along to San Juan Island, where we found K-Pod, down by the Lime Kiln Lighthouse. The whales were so active today! We saw lots of breaches, jumps, rolls, tail flaps, fin slaps, and spyhops. All three pods were spread out over about a seven-mile area. We had a total of around eighty to ninety orcas today! A fantastic day in the beautiful San Juans!
June 17, 2012
Happy Father's Day everyone! We had lots of fathers and grandfathers show up with their families today and they were in for a real treat on the Mystic Sea! We found the whales again near Lopez and followed them towards San Juan Island. We had a really great show and all the dads had a whale of a time with their families!
June 16, 2012
Today we met up with all of J-Pod, and parts of K-Pod and L-Pod near Iceberg Point on the Southern tip of Lopez Island. We followed them to the west side of San Juan Island and enjoyed a great show of tail flaps and spyhops! Mild weather and an all around great trip with Mystic Sea Charters!
June 15, 2012
Today was a day of perfect viewing conditions - overcast and warm! Sunny days are beautiful, but when it's overcast, the sunshine doesn't cause a glare on the water. We caught up with J-Pod just west of San Juan Island between Lime Kiln and Dangers Shoal. We had a huge group of active whales engaging in spyhops, tail flaps and also some deep water dives. On our way back, we ran into a great surprise - a huge school of porpoise! About 20-30 porpoise swimming in a group - what a treat!! A perfect start to the weekend on the Mystic Sea!
June 13, 2012
Mystic Sea charters headed up north today into Canadian waters. Just north of Active Pass, we caught up with all of J-Pod, and a couple big bulls from L-Pod! We followed them down to Tsawwassen Ferry near Vancouver. Lots of miles covered today by the Mystic Sea! We also got to see our friendly seals and porpoises as usual. Water much calmer on the way back, and perfect warm, sunny weather!
June 12, 2012
We had all of J-Pod today, approximately 26 members off of Lummi Island. We followed the Pod to Sinclaire Island. A few big bulls, and all the whales were munching on salmon in the water. Fantastic show of breeches, rolls and spyhopping. We floated on by Jack Island and saw 6 bald eagles, and an incredibly rare golden eagle! Then, on the North shore of Guemes Island, we had at least 6 more eagles. The most eagles we've had on one trip! Flat calm seas made for a great day out on the Mystic Sea!
June 11, 2012
Today we ran into some transient orcas, north of Victoria and we also had 3 humpback whales in the area! We've been having an unusual amount of humpbacks for this time of year, they are such a pleasure to see though! Also we caught glimpses of friendly porpoises and seals. The Mystic Sea traveled nearly 100 miles today and took in views of so much around the San Juans!
June 10, 2012
Today on the west side of San Juan Island, we found the entire J-Pod which is presently composed of twenty-five orcas! We also had a few whales from K-Pod hanging around. The whales were very active and we had perfect viewing conditions with flat, calm seas and sunshine! We also were able to find a large group of about 40-50 seals, soaking up the sun's rays on our way back to the harbor!
June 9, 2012
What a sunny, beautiful day out in the San Juan Islands. Today the Mystic Sea found the entire J-Pod off of Eagle Point, headed northbound along San Juan. Along with them, was L-41, the large male from L-Pod. Later on, we encountered L-Pod off of South Pender island, along the north shore of San Juan, headed southbound! Making our way back through the inner islands, it's been a perfect day of sunshine, whales and a light breeze.
June 5, 2012
We traveled down to the south of San Juan Island today where we were able to see a variety of whales that are uncommon for this time of year, including four to six minke whales, and even a huge humpback whale! We also enjoyed watching some white-sided porpoises along with harbor porpoises, and eagles and seals! Great day of sunshine and fun!
June 2, 2012
Mystic Sea made her way deep into the Canadian San Juans today near Sidney and Darcy Islands. We found a group of Transient orcas and spent about an hour with them. The whales were making seal and salmon kills, which always makes for an incredible show and learning experience. Also we were able to spot porpoises, seals and eagles in the sunny warm weather! All in all the Mystic Sea traveled nearly one hundred miles today!
May 31, 2012
Today the Mystic Sea got to hang around with six transient orcas in the San Juan Channel between Lopez Island and San Juan Island. Among these six Transients was a large male (T-30). The male orcas can grow to be huge! After spending some quality time with the transients, we then encountered K-Pod near Lime Kiln heading northbound. More information to follow!
May 30, 2012
Today was a rare experience, Mystic Sea Charters caught L-Pod returning to the San Juan Islands just twenty minutes out of Anacortes in Rosario Straits! Mystic Sea was the first boat on scene so we had the whales all to ourselves for about half an hour! Since we found them so early, we were able to spend a few hours with them while we drifted alongside them as they swam six miles towards Lopez Island. We had counted forty members of L-Pod. Welcome back to the San Juan Islands L-Pod!
May 27, 2012
The Mystic Sea and its passengers were able to locate J-Pod off of East Point today and we counted up to twenty four orcas! What a lucky day! We had about four to five breaches while we were with them. Also that day we were able to spot plenty of bald eagles and seals. So much diversity in the wildlife that occupies the San Juan Islands!
May 26, 2012
Today we had Transient orcas at Barnes and Clark Islands, north of the San Juan Islands. Plenty of breaching, spyhops and rolls; the whales were very active! We spent time with about eight to twelve of the Transient orcas, and followed them along to Patos Island. We also were able to watch over 60 seals playing about on the rocks of Matia Island.
May 23, 2012
What a picture perfect day out on the Mystic Sea. We began by heading towards Barnes Island and ran into 7 or 8 Transient orca whales, we followed them to Sucia Island, north of the San Juan Islands and we were able to spend 1 hour with the Transient orcas. After that, we boated over to East Point in the Canadian San Juan Islands, and encountered at least 24 members of J-Pod! They were very active with lots of jumping, rolls and splashes. Perfect warm, sunny weather, but the best part of the day was getting to see J-Pod's "Granny" for the first time this season. She is turning one-hundred and one years old this year! Good to see you Granny, thanks for making everyone's day special on the Mystic Sea!
May 22, 2012
J-Pod has returned to the San Juan Islands! Yesterday at 9:45 am, J-Pod was seen off south Pender Island. Then again yesterday at 11:30, they were headed northbound at Active Pass, and then at 1:30 they were once again sighted at Point Roberts. Then today, the J-Pod was sighted off of Steward Island at 8am, and then they were off of the West Side of San Juan Island at 10 am, then off of Salmon bank at 12pm. We are looking forward to a truly great holiday weekend with lots of sunshine and yes - lots of orcas! We hope to see you there!
April 4, 2012
Mystic Sea left Cap Sante Marina at eleven this morning and headed westbound, up through the center of the San Juan Islands. At 8 am that morning, we received reports via hydrophone of whales near San Juan Island. We traveled for a while enjoying the view of the sun-drenched islands and eventually encountered J and L Pod off of Turn Point, on Stuart Island. We had an incredible show of both pods interacting with each other. Perfect weather, what a great start to the weekend!
April 28, 2012
Mystic Sea departed from the Cap Sante Marina on Fidalgo Island and approximately 11 am and proceeded to search the southern sides of Guemes and San Juan Island until 1pm. While searching, we stopped to view a large group of steller sea lions, soaking in the rays of sunshine on Whale Rocks. After that, Mystic Sea headed down towards Smith Island, after receiving reports of possible orcas at Iceberg Point on the southern tip of Lopez Island. After a little bit, we encountered a large group of transient orcas having a grand ol' time! This group included a brand new baby orca, and a large male orca! We were able to spend an hour with the whales before we headed back home. On the way back, we encountered lots of wildlife, and some much appreciated sunshine! A beautiful trip enjoyed by all.
April 27, 2012
What a great show of whales we had today. Perfect weather for an outing too! We were able to catch up with lots of whales from the J Pod and a bull from L Pod. They seemed happy to be back in the San Juan Islands. They stretched their fins with some rolling, breaching and jumping. We also saw almost 40 steller sea lions. What a treat for everyone aboard the Mystic Sea!
April 24, 2012
Great news everybody: The whales are back! Sunday afternoon, J and K pod returned to the west side of San Juan Island. By late afternoon, they were off of the Stewart Island Lighthouse.
At 8:30 Monday morning, our resident orcas made their San Juan Island loop and were in Rosario Straits heading southbound just 20 minutes from Anacortes! They looked happy to be back! We're preparing for an awesome weekend (Friday the 27th, Saturday and Sunday) of orca whale watching cruises. There's still some space left for you! Call 1-800-308-9387 to reserve today!
April 15, 2012
Whale Update: Whales were spotted late afternoon yesterday off of Fort Casey on Whidbey Island and were spotted again this morning. The chances of seeing orcas today are very high!
April 14, 2012
Absolute perfect weather for today's trip. Sunshine, zero wind, incredible visibility! Mystic Sea Charters received a report of Orcas off of Discovery Island at 7:55AM. Then again, reports of 10-12 whales sighted at 9:30AM off Cattle Point on San Juan Island. All whale watching boats from Canada and U.S. were out there searching for the whales, enjoying scenic views of the San Juans. Along the way we encountered 30 Steller Sea Lions weighing up to 2,500 pounds! Bald eagles and seals were also so much fun to watch in the wild.
Orcas swim up to 100 miles per day at speeds up to 30 miles per hour, and they will dive for as long as 30 minutes without needing a breath! No whale watching ships were able to locate the whales today, but everyone enjoyed a great trip over 90 miles through the San Juan Islands.
Out of all 6 months of whale watching, we had only 4 days without whales, on those days the passengers still enjoyed a breathtaking trip through the San Juan Islands!
October 8, 2011
The last whale watching trip of 2011. What a day! All 3 pods appeared to wish us farewell. Approximately 90 orcas, all at the southern end of San Juan Island. We had 2 hours of jumping, spy hops and breaching with some end-of-the-summer romance too! A little later, we had over 40 steller sea lions on Whale Rocks and a day of warm, bright sunshine. Great temperature for a great close to our whale watching season. We had a fantastic group of passengers from all over the world.
October 1, 2011
As we near the end of our whale watching season, we had a great day out on the water today. The Mystic Sea caught up with K and L Pod today splashing around with an adorable harbor porpoise! It was such a joy to see them messing around. We also got to view an incredible group of enormous steller sea lions on the rocks! Amazing weather, calm water, who could ask for anything more?
September 20, 2011
On Tuesday, we had our SUPER POD! That's all 3 pods at one time, that's around 90 orcas! Too many to count. We found them at the bottom of San Juan Island headed north up the southern side of the island. We spent an hour and a half to two hours with the active whales before leaving them at Mosquito Pass. Again, the best weather! Perfect for whales watching as our season nears its close on October 9th.
September 19, 2011
Mystic Sea tracked down the L-Pod of orca whales today near the Southern end of San Juan Island. Approximately 30 orcas surrounding the boat putting on a great show for the passengers - and such amazing weather!
September 18, 2011
Today the Mystic Sea got to spend some time with 7 Minke whales which is pretty uncommon! On top of that, we also found ourself a lone humpback whale breeching neat Hein Bank - such a great sight to see! We also had a few "bait ball"s and for those of you who don't know, it's a large swarm of fish that swim so closely together that they look like a shining ball in the water (attracting hungry whales and seals!). Another day of great weather and sight seeing on the Mystic Sea!
September 16, 2011
First day back to whale watching, and what a great day for it! Today the Mystic Sea headed southbound through the majestic Rosario Strait towards the southern point of Lopez Island. There, we found all 3 pods of orcas; J, K and L Pod off of Iceberg Point! We were able to spend 2 hours with the whales as they lead us southbound toward Admiral T. Inlet. It was a phenomenal show of breaching, flipping, flopping and spyhopping! After our time was done with the whales, we headed off to enjoy amazing views of Deception Pass and the Burrows Island Lighthouse in perfect weather! It's good to be back!
September 11, 2011
This morning we got reports of orcas in Rosario Strait off of Fidalgo Island - very near Anacortes! At 12:30, Mystic Sea was able to find all three pods of orcas at Salmon Bank off of San Juan Island. We were able to spend almost 2 hours with 90 orcas! We had an incredible show of spyhops, rolling, breaching and even some mating! The Mystic Sea was also able to see seals, porpoise, and bald eagles. We couldn't have asked for better weather either!
The Mystic Sea is running crab cruises this week M-Th and will be re-open for whale watching cruises on Friday. See you then!
September 8, 2011
Today we hung out with 5 transient orcas at Whale Rocks. The Mystic Sea Passengers looked on as the whales, including the T-30 large bull, munched on some seals. The main group of whales showed up a little later around 4pm at Hein Bank. We had J and K Pod headed southward. Incredible weather yesterday, a perfect day for whale watching!
September 7, 2011
Great weather today on the Mystic Sea. We had all three pods today just off of Salmon Bank, spread out over about three square miles. Amongst the whales we spotted Blueberry, Mega and Capaccino along with the baby K44. On our way back we saw some great big sea lions. Amazing weather here as we make our transition into autumn. Calm seas and a great day!
If you'd like more pictures of the August 28th trip, check out the amazing photos by Andrew Kolstad of SoCal Photography HERE!
September 5, 2011
The Mystic Sea caught up with all 3 orca pods today. We spent about an hour and a half to two hours with about 90 orcas near East Point in Canada. It was a beautiful, sunny day with temperatures around 75-80 degrees in the afternoon. We had a great show full of 15-20 breaches, spyhops and rolls. On our way back we saw steller sea lions and seals at Pea Pod Rocks, we had eagles at Point Laurence on Orcas Island - all in all another fantastic day on the Mystic Sea!
August 31, 2011
Closing out August with another great whale day! The Mystic Sea headed inner island today with word of Transient orcas near Sidney. The Mystic Sea went past Speiden Island, then between James Island and Sidney and found 2 groups of Transient orcas! Lots of feeding, surface action and breaching! On our way back, the Mystic Sea passed by the southern ends of San Juan and Lopez.
August 28, 2011
"The most fantastic day we've had in 20 years" - Captain Monte Mystic Sea found some transient orcas headed North off of Mayne Island in Canadian waters at approximately 1:30pm. As we were watching the whales, a baby seal popped its head out of the water. The whales instantly started to chase, attack and attempt to crush the seal repeatedly. We noticed 2 baby orcas in the pod, so it was decided that the adult orcas were showing the babies how to hunt and kill. The baby seal couldn't escape in the open waters so he swam over to our boat and took refuge up against our hull and at one point tried hopping up onto our swim step with the whales in hot pursuit! At that point, it was in our best interest to shut off our engines so we didn't harm the seal or the whales. The whales stared down the seal as he swam closely around the hull of the Mystic Sea. The transients, (being much larger than the baby seal) circled around the Mystic Sea but could not get close enough to the boat to snap up the tasty morsel. After watching for 45 minutes, the whales backed off to 200 yards at which point the Mystic Sea started slowly pulled away on one engine. The seal stuck close to our boat for a few hundred yards until the whales lost interest. Once the seal was in the clear, he slowly fell back, stuck a fin in the air and waved a thankful "Goodbye". His big brown eyes seemed to say "Thanks for saving my life!" to the Mystic Sea and its passengers.
Make sure to check out the incredible footage of this event shot from the Mystic Sea! here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iP4r3V5_nyY
Also check out our Facebook page for pictures of a day in the life of that seal! http://www.facebook.com/pages/Mystic-Sea-Charters/320581053622
August 22, 2011
Today was a transient day!! We had a group of transient whales that made this a great day after all. The wind had come up and we were headed out to intercept the residents at Eagle Point, when we had reports of transients at Peapod! This was great news because like always the islands block the weather and gave us a calm day, and the overcast conditions usually make the whales more active. We found them at Orcas island, and noticed all the seals from the day before were missing from Peapod Rock. They might have been someones snack. We then followed them up to the north end of Orcas as they hunted the reefs up there. As expected they were success full again and found more little snacks to share. We had a real treat with the pure size and power of these transients compared to the resident salmon eaters.
August 21, 2011
We had a private charter today. It was with the Anacortes Newcomers Club. We had a wonderful time as we visited Mermaid rock and the seals and sea lions of Peapod. Today was a special day for the mystic sea as we were going to a private island at the South Finger of Sucia Island. The South Finger of Sucia is beautiful and the dock was able to accommodate the Mystic Sea with no problem at all. We arrived at the island and allowed the guests to roam about and have their picnic lunch's with such a great day to enjoy. Exploring the islands many beaches and trails. These are always some of the best trips and surprising adventure as we explore new areas.
August 19, 2011
Today Captain Murray encountered thick fog in the morning, we had about 30-60' visibility - not good! Luckily our crew is very skilled and confident and braved the fog! The Mystic Sea finally came upon the whales as the fog broke over the north shore of Orcas Island. We had J and K Pod all the way from Pender Island, northward to East Point. We followed the whales for about 1.5-2 hours until the whales started left towards Patos Island around 2:30. The whales showed off with lots of breaches, and a great show of high-speed porpoising! On the return home, we had amazing sunshine and everyone enjoyed the trip back!
August 18, 2011
The Mystic Sea headed through the middle of the San Juans today through Thatcher Pass towards Lopez Island, where we headed inner-island and found J and K Pod, messing around at Battleship Island. We followed them up to Limekiln Lighthouse and watched the whales for an hour and a half in the sun! Perfect conditions for a whale watching trip. After that, we headed to False Bay where we were suprised by the L Pod of orcas! And even after that, we ran into some massive Steller Sea Lions basking on Whale Rocks. All together, the passengers aboard the Mystic Sea witnessed 80-90 orcas today - what a perfect day!
August 17, 2011
Today, all 3 pods were in the San Juan Channel in the morning. L Pod decided to split and headed south, while J and K Pod headed north. We caught up with L Pod at Eagle Point and enjoyed watching the 40 orcas dive deeply before coming up for a grand breach! On our way back in the glorious sunlight, we saw some enormous sea lions sunning themselves.
August 15 & 16, 2011
We had all 3 pods these days since they made their return to the San Juan Islands! Between Victoria and the west side of San Juan, we had a total of 88 orcas and some sea lions too!
August 14, 2011
Today we found the feisty Transient orcas off of Smith Island. We had 6 female transients and a baby. The passengers aboard the Mystic Sea watched as the orcas circled Smith and Minor Island. Over the course of the 2 hours we spent with the whales, passengers were amazed to see the orcas eat 6 seals for lunch! Mmm. A great day weather-wise as well; sunshine and calm waters. On our way back, we bumped into K and L pod at San Juan Island, and some steller sea lions and bald eagles too! So much wildlife for one day!
August 13, 2011
Gorgeous day with J and K Pod off Eagle Point, all the way down to Salmon Bank! Capuccino, Mega and the new baby. Lots of breaches, spy hops and more surface action. On the way back, we watched the Steller Sea Lions, harbor seal pups + grown seals, and bald eagles. Such a great day!
August 12, 2011
Today was foggy, but we were able to locate J and K pod off of Pile Point and it was a great show! We returned via Cattle Pass and San Juan Channel where we broke out of the fog to a beautiful, sunny trip home.
August 10, 2011
Today our orcas were back! We caught up with J and K pods at False Bay on the southern side of San Juan Island. The Mystic Sea followed, as the whales led the way to Salmon Bank. There, we met up with the L pod as well! The gang was all there and there was much celebrating! Lots of surface activity; breaching, spyhops, tail flaps, rolls and mating! We were able to spend 2 hours with all 3 pods before we headed back, in the sunshine, to our humble Fidalgo Island.
August 9, 2011
All the orcas were up at Jordan River; 30 miles west of Victoria B.C., and out of range for all but Victoria-based boats. Mystic Sea headed out into the Strait of Juan de Fuca in some wavy waters, searching for humpback whales. It was a long start, but well worth the effort! We viewed Steller Sea Lions, Eagles, Seals and chose to take our customers on a rare tour through Deception Pass in favor of searching for an elusive Minke whale. August 9th customers are invited back for one free tour (does not expire). Update: J, K, and L pods did return to our waters off Victoria. They were San Juan Island bound at 8 pm, Tuesday evening. We are looking forward to a great day! We'll keep you updated!
August 8, 2011
The orcas had all moved past Jordan River well to the west of Victoria and beyond the range of all but Victoria's boats. Instead we focused on the Strait of Juan de Fuca in hopes of finding some large Minke whales. Captain Carl of Island Adventures spotted a humpback within a mile of our boats and we enjoyed what turned out to be two humpback whales. In addition, we saw Steller Sea Lions at Whale Rocks, numerous seals, harbor porpoises and a bald eagle! Though the orcas were on vacation today, seeing the humpbacks was a rare treat! A beautiful show on the Mystic Sea!
August 7, 2011
Today there was a bit of light fog which made for a quiet, mysterious and beautiful trip through the still water most of the way to Salmon Bank. When we reached the opening between Pile Point and Eagle Point, passengers could start hearing whales bursting through the water to breathe. The fog then cleared long enough to have a beautiful show from our resident orca whales feeding and breaching, their sounds and activity stood out in the midst of the still, quiet, day. On the way back home, there were sun breaks all the way to Shark Reef, then the sun came out and made for a beautiful trip all the way back into the marina!
August 4, 2011
Captain Monte decided to steer the boat north today to catch the most whales, while some other companies decided on a different direction. At Pt. Roberts, we ran into over 60 orcas belonging to the J and L pod. There was a lot of swimming around, lots of feeding and showing of fins! It was a great show! On the way back, the passengers enjoyed great views of Mt. Baker and Lummi Island in the 80 degree weather on the calm sea.
August 3, 2011
Today Captain Monte located the all 3 pods: J, K, and L Pod headed northbound near Battleship Island which is northwest of San Juan Island! It's not very often that we are lucky enough to find all 3 pods of orcas in one day! We followed the whale to Turn Point on Steward Island. With all three pods combined, we were able to watch 90 orcas swim around, breach, spyhop and flap their giant fins. On our way back we had great views of the Stewart Island Lighthouse and amazing weather!
Mystic Sea Charters has been having a great season so far with over 5 solid weeks of Orcas!
August 1, 2011
Today the Mystic Sea found L Pod feasting on salmon again near Eagle Point. The passengers on board got lucky and saw 3 enormous Steller Sea Lions laying about on Whale Rocks. The sea lions migrate down from Alaska in the late summer and they weighg up to 2,500 pounds! Another day of fabulous weather in the San Juans.
July 31, 2011
Today we had all three pods: J, K and L Pod off of Eagle Point. There was a lot of surface activity, lots of breaches, tail flaps and rolls. Lots of salmon jumping out of the water - orca's main food source! Great weather as well!
July 28, 2011
Today the whales were out further than usual, and as a result, a few local whale watching companies decided to cancel their trips. Captain Murray however, decided to take the passengers all the way (against an incoming tide) to see the whales. Even with the water being a little choppy, Murray knew the Mystic Sea could handle it and provide the passengers a smooth, great ride. The Mystic Sea finally discovered J and K Pod near Race Rocks; they really made the trip worth while, they were so active!
July 27, 2011
Captain Murray was able to locate all three pods today off the southern end of San Juan Island. The whales were feeding and creating lots of surface activity! Among those whales was the little baby from the K Pod, splashing around. The girl writing these trip reports would like to see this baby very much so make sure to upload your pictures to our Facebook fan page (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Mystic-Sea-Charters/320581053622)! After that, we spotted a large Minke whale off Salmon Bank along with our nation's bird - the bald eagle! We also got to see lots of friendly seals on our trip back to the marina. Such a great day!
July 26, 2011
Today we met up with J and K Pod at Battleship Island, we had amazing weather and water conditions; great for seeing the spectacular show the whales put on for us! We followed the group of more than 60 orcas up past Eagle Point, spent even more time with them and then made our way back to the marina. All in all, another great trip aboard the Mystic Sea!
July 25, 2011
We received reports that the orcas were back in the San Juan Islands in Actice Pass after their Victoria vacation. The Mystic Sea encountered the L Pod in Faults Bay headed Southbound. It was so great to have the orcas back, they were showing off for us. The Mystic Sea made her way back through the islands on smooth water. The weather was off and on, but that did not affect the orcas at all!
July 24, 2011
This morning we got a call telling us the whales had been spotted to the south of Lopez Island so needless to say, that's where we headed! Instead of finding our usual orcas however, we were suprised with an unusually large group of Minke (pronounced mink-ee) whales near Hein Bank! Minkes are 25-30 ft baleen whales, they filter microorganisms out of the water for food. Minkes fall into a sub-group of baleen whales called rorqual whales, meaning that their throat area is grooved. Minkes are usually found in smaller groups of two or three, so to encounter a group of nearly 15 minkes was a real treat! The Minkes gave us a great show and we were able to spend about 2 hours with them. We then headed back around the southern end of Lopez Island and caught up with 2 more male Minkes measuring in at about 35 feet long!
At 9pm last night, we got a report that all 3 pods of orcas had been feeding on a large school of salmon near Victoria, and now about 90 orcas are following (and eating) the salmon back in U.S. waters towards San Juan Island!
July 22, 2011
The Mystic Sea caught up with J, and some of K-Pod today in the northern part of Haro Straight, then followed them to the Turnpoint Lighthouse. Passengers snapped lots of great pictures of the orcas doing what they do best: showing off their fins! We were also lucky enough to see the new baby orca, look closely for the orange-tint of the newborn's skin! On the return trip past Sucia Island, the passengers got to enjoy watching seals hauled out and birds flying by. Overall another great day on the Mystic Sea!
July 21, 2011
Today the Mystic Sea left the marina on a gusty day. We received word that the whales were located down south, but there was also word of choppy water. Being the great captain that he is, Captain Murray took into consideration the weather and knew that most companies would be heading north into calmer waters. Captain Murray was confident though that the Mystic Sea could offer a comfortable ride even on the bumpy waves, so he steered south and a while later, the passengers aboard the Mystic Sea got to experience a near-private show of a very large group of L-Pod orcas, who we found between Pile Point and Salmon Bank. Usually known as a less-active pod, the L-Pod orcas made the trip well worth our while with spyhops, rolls and tail flaps! The only people in the world who were lucky enough to see this show was the passengers of the Mystic Sea, and two smaller canadian boats. Other companies in the area headed north to watch the small group of orcas. Sounds like a great call Captain Murray!
July 20, 2011
Captain Murray reported that they bumped into the whales in Haro Straight, to the west of San Juan Island. We had members of the L and K pod doing lots of spyhops, breaches and lots of other activities, but we'll keep it G-Rated folks. There were so many whales in all directions that it took the Mystic Sea a while to maneuver out of the cluster of whales - that's a lot of whales! Weather was good and seas were calm for the day.
July 19, 2011
What a unique day upon the Mystic Sea! We first encountered whales just fifteen minutes outside of the marina, near the end of the Guemes Channel. The whales then led the way, bringing us to breathtaking Deception Pass where we were able to spend 2 hours watching the whales from J and L Pod put on an amazing show for us! We encountered the whales again at Deception Island and spent another 30 minutes watching them spyhop continuously, and even mate with each other. Hopefully in a year or so we'll have some bouncing baby orcas in our waters!
July 17, 2011
The Mystic Sea's passengers got to experience a true northwest day out on the water today! But a little fog and sprinkles never stopped the Mystic Sea or the orcas! We found the orcas near False Bay on the south of San Juan Island and they were on the move further south to Eagle Point. Lots of large L-Pod bulls were spotted romancing with the J-Pod ladies! The whales were spread over a wide area at first but then centered in as the afternoon progressed. The rain let up while we watched the whales put on a great show, make sure to check out Facebook page periodically for pictures!
July 15, 2011
We had a great trip to the south of San Juan Island today searching for the whales. The Mystic Sea finally caught up with the J and K pods off Eagle Point. The Mystic Sea passengers were able to spend over 2 hours with the whales watching them breach, spyhop, roll, and flap their giant fins. There were 30-40 orcas within a 5 mile radius. Captain Monte said it was a phenomenal show, made better only by the calm water and some long awaited sunshine!
July 13, 2011
What an amazing day out on the water. The Mystic Sea found the whales between Deception Pass and Castle Rock. Then they had a great show south of Lopez Island. The lucky passengers got to see such playful 2-year-old orcas spashing around. There were also come close encounters and great views of J27!
July 12, 2011
Incredible show of orca whales! Captain Murray has worked for Mystic Sea Charters for years and said it's by far the best he's ever seen. The Mystic Sea encountered the whales west of Patos Island in Canadian waters. We had up to four whales breaching at the same time in the shallower waters - that's incredible! Make sure to check our Facebook page for pictures from the Mystic Sea passengers!
July 11, 2011
Today started out with the sesason's second super pod, but unfortunately they were all separating as we arrived on scene. One thing for sure, there were whales in ever direction - incredible! Lots of youngsters today. We had one guy who came up and did a full breach that almost everyone got a great photo of. This one would make even the seasoned whale watchers drool! There were cheers all around! I will be sure to get the pictures posted as the guests send them in. The whales are really giving a great show this year!
July 9 , 2011
Another great day in the San Juan's. We went through Pole Pass on the ride out! We found the whales around Battleship Island again and followed them around to the west side of San Juan. Had a great group again today, and plenty of spectacular photo ops. Well as you may all know, the transients have been around and boy did we find them! Now I may be new to the boat, but these transient males are hard to imagine, even Capt Murray thinks that it may have been the largest bull he's ever seen!
July 7, 2011
Today was our first sighting of a Super Pod! A super pod is when we see members of all the pods: J, K and L pod. We spent time with over 90 orcas which we first encountered headed Northbound, to the west of San Juan Island. We then caught up with more whales between Battleship and Spieden Island. The whales then turned and headed Southbound through Haro Straight back towards the west side of San Juan Island. The weather cleared up and we had sunshine and calm weather and plenty of time to see the whales showing off tail flaps, rolls, lots of breaches and even mating! Ooh la la!
July 6, 2011
What a great day! Mystic Sea encountered both J and K pods approximately 2 miles south of Lopez Island. The passengers on the Mystic Sea had a great show of about 40-50 orcas spread over 5 miles. The orcas were very active; rolling, flapping their fins and even breaching! Then the Mystic Sea followed the whales east from the southern end of Lopez to Davidson Rock, and was able to spend over 2 hours with the active orcas. The remaining time was spent sight seeing in the picturesque Deception Pass and the Burrows Island light house. We had 80 degree weather, clear skies and very calm seas. A great day for whale watching.
July 5, 2011
We had to really travel to the whales today but it was worth it! We went to Active Pass and found them. For our effort they started heading back with us towards home. It gave us plenty of time to see some great play time and see them hunting the tidal rips. They even got real curios about the boat and we had to shut down as they came around to investigate. Seems they have really taken a liking to the sound of Mystic Seas new main Generator. It was a long trip but the weather was so nice the guests didn't want it to end.
We got back just in time for our second group which was also a High School Band from Ohio and this even got better. We still had to run up north to see the whales but the water was like glass and the air was still. The whales were posing in front of a sunset on Mount Baker like you wouldn't believe. Once again the students were amazed and I believe that they will take this trip with them for years to come. I had a great time with this group and found their interest with the boat appealing. They found the navigation at dusk fascinating, and Capt Monte gave James one of the students, a very in depth lesson on seaman ship and vessel navigation through the Islands at sundown. I believe after an experience like this we may have a future ships captain . It is trips like these that make this job really fulfilling.
July 4, 2011
Really had a great day! The boat was full of a wonderful group of students from a High School Band in Michigan. They had a incredible experience with the Puget sound and its wildlife. The whales came to us and we had perfect weather. The Orca were active with plenty of above water displays. Since the whales were headed toward deception pass we were able to take the students through and they had a great time taking pictures of its beauty. I was happy to see the amount of interest shown in the wild life and the impact of seeing these animals up close will have on there preservation.
June 30, 2011
Today we spotted a large group consisting of about 30-40 orcas from the J and L Pods. We found them on the south side of the Salmon Bank marker, then the Mystic Sea was able to follow them down the southern side of Lopez Island. We had a great view of the whales; lots of breaches, spyhops and tail slaps. The Mystic Sea was able to spend over 2 hours with the whales since they were found so close to Anacortes. We had sunshine and calm waters. Captain Murray gave the whales a 10/10! When the passengers of the Mystic Sea were not with the whales, they were off enjoying the great views of nature and other wildlife the San Juan Islands have to offer!
June 28, 2011
Today we had nice warm weather again -- 70 degrees -- and a great show off of Mullet Point and South Pender in Swanson Channel. We had a lot of action from the big bulls of J-pod and were able to ID several including J27 Blackberry, J34, and J27 Polaris - a 2 year old calf. Nice calm and relaxing cruise home too.
June 26, 2011
Well it appears that the black and whites are here to stay for the summer. We have had great whale shows everyday since the three Resident Orca pods came back into the San Juan Island area this season. This weekend we saw them breaching, spyhopping, tail slapping and feeding off of Patos and Lummi Islands during our wildlife cruises, as well as off of Sinclair for a spectacular sunset wedding rehearsal, making for a magical evening.
June 24, 2011
SUMMER IS OFFICIALLY HERE!! ... And the warm weather is here to prove it :) Mystic Sea has had all three resident pods and fantastic Orca shows everyday this week! Yesterday we went as far as Active Pass, spent a nice long time with J pod, and still got back to Anacortes by 5:30 -- thanks to the new engines that allow us to go a lot faster, we are now able to accomplish the extra distances to get Orcas for our customers. This week we have also had Orcas on the west side of San Juan Island and near Deception Pass, which in comparison to Active Pass is basically in our backyard. On our way over to Lopez Island we were treated with a great Minke show as well. We watched him do several rolls and he was coming most of the way out of the water, almost like a half breach - a spectacular sight for the generally-elusive Minke!
June 15, 2011
Over the past couple of days we have spent a considerable amount of time with the Orcas -- paralleling them for miles and watching them travel and feed in the beautiful calm waters of the San Juan Islands. There were plenty of very active Resident Orcas (J and L pod members for sure, and possibly even a couple K pod females) swimming between famous Deception Pass and gorgeous San Juan Island, putting on a great show breaching and playing together.
At about midday today we witnessed something that very rarely happens . . . a group of Transient Orcas swam through Pole Pass during an extremely low tide! This was incredible because it was so shallow that we could not even make it through in the Mystic Sea (and we draw about 5 feet), so those 30-foot-long, 9-Ton Orcas must have been close to scraping their bellies. Wow! -- Then after meeting them around the other side of Crane Island, our strategy to branch off from the other whale watching boats proved to be very effective, as we were in the perfect position to view them when they came up from their deep dives.
We love the islands at this time of year because the photo opportunities are endless...the early summer foliage of the deciduous trees is such a bright and vivid green against the darker backdrop of the tall evergreen trees, and when we spot an Eagle soaring low against a rusty-colored cliff or we find a little island where there are baby Harbor Seals basking in the sun -- every day ends up being unique and special.
June 12, 2011
Some times the stars just seem to alline themselves perfectly and one gets what we had today. With Capt. Monte at the helm and the one and only Ms. Carolyn, naturalist extraordinare, we were on the whales in no time flat. Big Hugo (L71) treated us to quite a show with not only tail slaps and breeches but a backflip as well! Showoff.
We ended up in Middle Channel with whales from both the J and L pods feeding on their favorite dish of Chinook Salmon.
On the scenic and leisurely cruise home we had a chance to listen to Carolyn and Monte tell us about the origin of the Pig War on San Juan Island while cruising past the scenic Cattle Point Light House, built in 1896.
If we didn't mention that Mike (J 26) made an appearance and treated us to a few of his own aerial gymnastics, he might be a little upset, so there you are Mike . . . a little Mystic Sea shout out.
If you haven't been out with us yet, I am telling you, you are missing one of life's most beautiful sites -- so don't wait and have and regets later -- get on the boat. Sea ya onboard!
June 10, 2011
Capt. Murray "The Flash" Hamilton caught up with the J Pod at Battleship Rock and the west end of Spieden in Channel and followed all the way around Turn Point, Stuart Island (which has the smallest Post Office in the U.S.), and then into Boundry Pass. We where lucky enough to see over 50 breeches. Awesome!
June 9, 2011
Another great day with the Orcas! Again we got to enjoy the beauty of the San Juans while finding members of both the J and L pods northwest towards East Point. We were super lucky today to be joined by a large tour group from Vancouver as well as two movie star twins Joyce and Jacqueline Robbins who have appeared in such films as "The Wicker Man" with Nicholas Cage, "High Noon" with Tom Skerrit, "The Magic Of Ordinary Days" with Skeet Ulrich and Kerri Russell as well as many more.
Due to our off season engine rebuilds we are now two knots faster and have been able to spend more quailty time with the whales than ever. Customers and crew alike enjoy the shear magesty of not only the Orcas themselves, but our other local wildlife as well like the 60+ California Seals "getting their sun tan on".
Another day in Paradise.
June 8, 2011
AMAZING day with the Orcas! It was the first day this season that we had 2 of our Resident Orca pods back in the San Juan Islands area! This morning Captain Murray Hamilton didn't waste any time getting us up to the whales - we went north of Bellingham and cut across in a northwesterly direction towards Eastpoint, where we met a large group of Orcas feeding and playing in the tide rip. It was great because we were one of the first boats on the scene, the whales were super active, and we counted 29 full breaches!
Photos: 1) Orca breach by Beachwatcher Naturalist, Jill Hein
2) Fantastic group of Pateros school children onboard
Today we were able to ID several of the Residents Orcas by their distinctive white saddlepatches: J26-Mike, J27-Blackberry, J22-Oreo, and a even a large bull, L87-Onyx, who seems to have been adopted by J-pod. After spending a lot of quality time with the whales, we took the scenic route back to Anacortes, passing the spectacular Cone Islands, and saw Harbor Porpoise, Bald Eagles, and dozens of Harbor Seals throughout the beautiful sunny day!
June 8, 2011
Evening Cruise with the Anacortes Chamber of Commerce
The Mystic Sea pulled off a fantastic double header yesterday, not only seeing the Resident J and L Pod for the first time this season, but following that fantastic sight up in the evening, enjoying a thank you party cruise for the volunteers of the Waterfront Festival with our local Chamber of Commerce.
The kids enjoyed practicing their nautical terms such as port, starboard, fore and aft, learning about our engines and viewing wildlife through our complimentary binoculars, while the grownups had a chance to catch up with each other and partake of some of our amazing locally brewed "adult beverages," generously provided by The Rockfish Grill.
We took a nice leisurely cruise around the backside of Guemes Island, got to see the smallest post office in the United States (an 8'x12' building) on Sinclair Island and then caught a couple of seals basking in the remains of the sun on the way home.
All in all not a bad way to spend a day if you ask me.
June 4, 2011
With weather like we had today it seems that everything else is almost bonus. Not only did we experience a 70 degree day here on the water in the Pacific Northwest, but we witnessed a spectacular Minke Whale show where the whales were surfacing almost close enough to smell (not always a pleasant thing). Folks traveling cross country from Indiana, as well as the two young lads Jack and Finn where able to experience the local beauty of the San Juan Islands, Mt. Rainer and the Olympics, as well as see first hand, our fantasic wildlife like the California Sealions sunning on a bouy, and many Harbour Porpises.
On the cruise back we experienced the natural beauty of our fearless leader's lineage Hughes Bay, where we saw a Bald Eagle perched atop a tree, while all of the Daises on board, (precursors to Girl Scouts) got to take a turn at the helm and drive for a bit! Looks like deckhand Thomas might be out of a job.
Needless to say a great time was had by all. Pictures to follow. Friend us on Facebook or follow us here to keep us with the latest news and updates. We are all looking forward to seeing you all again soon.
June 1, 2011Beautiful and invigorating day on the water today! It was a long run but thanks to the fast, ocean-rated Mystic Sea, we pushed through the incoming tide and caught up to 5 Transient Orcas at Race Rocks just west of Victoria, BC -- 1 large bull, 3 females, and 1 calf, all tail slapping and feeding. One time we even saw the bull "porpoising", or skimming along the top of the water! It was really neat to see this group today as they are visibly a lot larger than our resident Orcas, and it is chilling to know that these are the creatures that are at the top of the entire food chain! The waters were uncrowded and we enjoyed being one of only 2 boats from the San Juan Islands to see Orcas today! Later in the afternoon, we came back via the south end of Lopez and got some great photos too.
May 31, 2011
Wow! We topped off a fantastic Memorial Day weekend with witnessing an amazing sight, 5-6 transient orcas feeding on a seal. Transients by nature are quite active creatures and we were not disappointed, watching numerous breaches, "cartwheels" and other feats of marine gymnastics.
May 30, 2011
This weekend proved to be a spectacular start to our Orca season! The nice weather has been a treat and we have had a couple of fantastic Transient Orca shows. In addition to lots of breaches, we were lucky enough to witness the circle of life in motion, as the Transients shared a Sea Lion for lunch!
Each day we have been joined by parades of Harbor Porpoises playing and jumping near our bow, and have spent time listening to the large Steller Sea Lions sprawled out on Whale Rocks as they bark and growl at each other. In addition to seeing plenty of Harbor Seals, Bald Eagles and myriads of other sea birds, there has also been one huge California Sea Lion who seems to like posing for photos as he claims his space on one of the buoys in Guemes Channel - quite possibly the new Mystic Sea mascot . . .
We also had a very special encounter with two very graceful Minke whales near Hein Bank. The cow (with calf) was formerly known as "Johnny Rotton", but was recently re-named Christy Hein-Bank -- after making it evident that she is actually a female and now a mother!
2010 TRIP REPORTS
CELEBRATING 118 CONSECUTIVE DAY5 OF ORCA WHALES IN 2010!
October, 2010 We have seen Orca Whales on every single Whale Watching trip this year, with the exception of only two days, which to our knowledge, was unsurpassed by anyone else in the industry. Check out our Five Star Rating on Trip Advisor.
October 7, 2010
YAHOO!! We had our last Whale Watching Cruise of the season today . . . followed by a wonderful, relaxing overnight cruise to Friday Harbor. After departing Anacortes and rounding the southern tip of Lopez Island, we cruised towards False Bay on the southwest side of San Juan Island. We met up with some of the biggest L-pod bulls, Mega and Mozart, and saw Cappuccino frolicking around with Princess Angeline and her baby, Moby. We were treated to several spectacular breaches before saying goodbye to the Orcas.
On our way towards Friday Harbor we spent some time watching and listening to the mighty Stellar Sea Lions barking and growling at each other as they claimed their space on Whale Rocks. We also saw Pelagic Cormorants, a majestic lone Bald Eagle, and plenty of playful Harbor Porpoise. After a very satisfying afternoon viewing the whales, the wildlife, and the scenic San Juan Islands we enjoyed a delicious catered dinner with wine and dessert, followed by a good night's sleep in the quaint little town of Friday Harbor. The next morning we woke to bottomless cups of coffee, scrumptious pastries and fresh fruit - all a part of the continental breakfast aboard the Mystic Sea. On our way back to Anacortes we cruised up through the middle of the islands, through Pole Pass and then through Obstruction Pass - both rocky and narrow, they are two of the most dramatic and picturesque places in Washington!
Best wishes for the Orcas' good health and safe travels this winter -- We look forward to seeing you next season!
October 3, 2010
Everyone had a blast watching an outstanding Orca show --- and got some amazing photos! We had members from all 3 pods again off of Eastpoint. They were spyhopping, porpoising and playing . . . and we had upwards of 25 full breaches! (photos coming soon). We spent time with Ruffles, Cappuccino, and Princess Angeline and her new baby, and many others as well. On the way back, we made our way through the middle of the beautiful San Juan Islands. Thanks to our dedicated lunch service providers, Frank and Nancy, we had a toast to celebrate our Spectacular 2010 Orca Season!
September 20, 2010
September is our favorite month for whale watching and wildlife cruises! - the Orcas always seem to be more active at this time of year, the Humpbacks have returned to the San Juan Islands, and the gigantic Stellar Sea Lions (weighing up to 2400lbs) are usually hauled out on Whale Rocks during these few weeks of September . . . these amazing creatures won't be around this area much longer, so better book your cruise soon.
Today all three Resident Orca pods were on the west side of San Juan Island, traveling south - 60 to 90 Orcas!!
September 16, 2010
Over the last couple of days we have had gorgeous weather, crystal-clear views of Mount Baker, and exciting whale sightings. We have seen many members from all 3 pods. A couple of our good-ol-favorites included J1 Ruffles, and his mother Granny (estimated to be 99 years old), and some of the best breaches, spyhops, and porpoising activity was being done by: J25 Blackberry, J34 Doublestuff, L25 Ocean Sun, L74 Saanich, and L88 Wavewalker.
September 14, 2010Today's dense fog shrouding the San Juan Islands made for a unique and mystical Orca show. In addition to seeing the new K pod babies practicing their breaches many times over, and seeing the big bull named Cappuccino cavorting and spy hopping on the surface with several K pod females, we were completely mesmerized by the underwater show. The soft grey foggy light offered excellent visibility deep into the emerald green waters - - seeing the giant black and white forms move gracefully beneath the surface was awe-inspiring and left us with chills of exhilaration!
One might ask how we are able to find the Orcas in the 600 square miles of water and fog so dense that visibility is restricted to less than 100 yards. Well thanks to the vast network of boats in radio communication, we can find out their general vicinity, but the rest is just luck. Captain Monte Hughes positioned the Mystic Sea perfectly so that we had great views of whales without any other boats around!
September 12, 2010
Another tremendous Humpback show today! - It was very well worth the extra hour to go the distance to Thompson's Bank (between Victoria and Port Angeles), to see the Humpbacks again. We spent over an hour watching them play on the surface, spyhop, and fish. Like something one might see in a National Geographic movie, the Humpbacks were doing their "bubble dance"; a fascinating and ingenious fishing method in which the whales encircle the fish with bubbles and then stun them with their tails and pectoral fins before eating them.
September 11, 2010
Once again, we were the only boat from Anacortes to Bellingham that found Orcas! We got off the dock 10 minutes early and headed straight for Race Rocks, where we witnessed several Transient Orcas kill a Harbor Porpoise. What a sight! We were with the Orcas for about 45 minutes and also spent some quality time with 4 Humpbacks, during which time we saw 3 SPECTACULAR HUMPBACK BREACHES! Just imagine what an awe-inspiring sight it is to see 90,000 lbs of whale jump out of the water . . . It is great news that the Humpbacks are back again for the fall season. We are looking forward to many more exciting days like this one!
September 7, 2010
What started out as a foggy, mysterious morning turned out to be a sparkling, magical autumn day as the dark skies opened up to warm sunshine in the afternoon. Aboard the Mystic Sea this morning we enjoyed the comfort of the heated cabins, hot chocolate, and pastries as we made our way down Rosario Straights and around to the southwest side of San Juan Island. Thanks to everyone being onboard early this morning, we were able to depart early, cruise fast with the ebb tide, and spend a lot of time with the whales. We were the only whale watching boat on scene for the majority of our hour and a half that we were with the different groups of whales. Durning that time, we were able to ID Mega, Mozart, and Matia - three L pod members who seemed to really enjoy frolicking, feeding, and showing off all around us. We welcomed the fresh feeling of the change of seasons today, as we celebrate our 105th day of seeing Orcas this year! We hope everyone enjoyed their Labor Day weekend!
Orca photo by Anne Surerus Other photos by Leizel Yaeger
September 5, 2010
Today was a special day, as we were finally able to spend some time with Ruffles again! The biggest bull of all three pods, J1 Ruffles, had not been spotted for several weeks prior to today's cruise up north of Waldron Island, near Eastpoint. We got some great photos and videos of him traveling with a couple of K pod females - even as we were leaving he continued following us as we cruised back south into the San Juan area.
September 2, 2010
Celebrating 100 days of Orca Whales this season! - consecutive days, except for one!
Again, we had a gorgeous day on the water - we heard about one group near Point Roberts, heading south towards San Juan Island, and spent time with the two other groups - about 60 Orcas altogether, mostly L and K pods- off of Eagle Point. It was beautiful seeing so many tight groups of whales playing in the sunshine!
September 1, 2010
Today there were Orca Whales at Point Roberts, Sooke, and Andrews Bay, where we witnessed a fantastic show! It was a gorgeous cruise with warm, calm weather and great visibility of the North Cascade Mountains as well. The Orcas were full of energy today, rolling, breaching, and feeding --- we even saw them catch their dinner, as one came up with a freshly-killed seal in it's mouth. What a day!
August 31, 2010
With respect to the safety of our passengers we elected not to run today in the 15-30 knot winds. Even though we knew the whales were fairly close we felt that the comfort and safety of our passengers, which of course is our priority, could have been compromised if we ran. -- We are looking forward to our special Crab Cruise tomorrow though, as the weather forecast is looking better.
August 30, 2010
This morning we heard that all 3 pods were northwest-bound up Swanson Channel in Canadian waters - heading for Active Pass. In order to catch up to them we cut through the middle of the San Juan Islands and then went up through Navy Channel intersecting with them just north of Otter Point on North Pender Island.
Our plan worked perfectly and upon exit of the channel we had all 90 Resident Orcas parade across our bow! Because of this choice of route we were able to spend about an hour with the Orcas and had a very unique and special show! There were spy hops, breaches and mating galore! - Lots of nice tight groups of 10-15 whales together made for excellent pictures too. Altogether we covered about 90 miles again and had fantastic warm weather.
August 28, 2010
Epic Day Today! In addition to being the only boat from Anacortes to see Orca Whales today . . . we also spotted a couple of Minke Whales, spent time with a majestic Grey Whale, cruised around the entire San Juan Islands area, and got some great photos of Bald Eagles and Harbor Seals! Check out the photos in our Facebook album . . . (Facebook link on right side of Mystic Sea homepage)
The day started out looking like we might have been in for some early-fall rain, but luck