Trip Reports & Updates
July 6, 2015
We celebrated Independence Day with an array of whales. Over this holiday weekend all three of our resident pods were seen. The majority of these sightings took place on the west side of San Juan Island – where the whales have spent a good amount of time this week. We also encountered members of L-Pod off of Victoria on Sunday, as well as other members near Eagle Point on San Juan. K-Pod spent some time spread out from Stuart Island Lighthouse to Point Roberts. It was a pleasure to spend our weekend watching these elegant creatures in their natural habitat. ~Amy W., Mystic Sea
July 3, 2015
Friday morning the sea was calm and flat with warm sunshine. We received reports of Orcas on the west side of San Juan Island, so Captain Kent and the Mystic Sea crew headed that way upon departure. On our way to San Juan Island we passed by a group of harbor seals and a couple of bald eagles. We reached Salmon Banks around noon, where we stopped to observe some minke whales as they surfaced a few times during feeding.
The Mystic Sea continued toward San Juan Island where we caught up with a few members of the resident J-Pod, including one of the new babies from this year. Reports indicated that J and K Pod were spread out that day, so after watching this segment of J-Pod for a while, we advanced toward Lime Kiln Lighthouse before starting our return trip.We encountered a few more members of J-Pod feeding near the shore at Lime Kiln Lighthouse. After catching several glimpses of these orcas, we started our return trip to Anacortes. During our ride back, a few passengers and crew did catch a quick look at what appeared to be a male orca off of San Juan Island. It was another radiant day and successful trip aboard our vessel. ~Amy W., Mystic Sea
July 2, 2015
Another gorgeous summer day with ample sunshine. The Mystic Sea departed Anacortes at 11:00 this morning travelling southbound out of Rosario and across the south end of Lopez Island. We caught up with J & K Pods off of Iceberg Point, travelling eastbound. We continued on with these beauties towards the south end of Lopez, at Colville, as they did many breaches and tail flaps. There were more than 30 Orcas in the area today.
On our return trip cruised towards Deception Pass and Deception Island, passing by Burrows Island Lighthouse. We arrived back to Anacortes at 4:00pm, after another fantastic day of whale watching in the San Juan Islands. ~Amy W., Mystic Sea
Transient Orcas breeching & swimming. Photos by Jill Hein
June 30, 2015 -- June Wrap Up!
As the month of June comes to a close we have had some thrilling whale sightings over the last several days. We are now in our peak season and the Mystic Sea is running 7 days a week!
Last Thursday and Friday passengers encountered J, K, and L Pods on the west side of San Juan. These resident orcas gave us an incredible show of breaches and tail slaps before breaking off and heading Northbound and Southbound.
On Saturday, our local orcas were again seen of the west side of San Juan. A large group of Transient orcas gave the Mystic Sea a stunning show off of Shaw Island.
Sunday, June 28, we caught up with a large group of Transients off the north end of Orcas Island. Passengers and crew observed as this group did a variety of up to twelve breaches, tail slaps, and fed on a few seals. Also, on this day, we received reports of the resident whales near Stuart’s Island and Turn Point, heading northbound toward Point Roberts.
On Monday our whale watching started just twenty minutes into our trip, while still near Anacortes in the Rosario Straights. We encountered 3 humpbacks and witnessed a full breach, lots of tails, flukes, and rolls. These lovely humpbacks included Split Fluke, Windy, and an unidentified companion. Mystic Sea then continued on to Eagle Point off San Juan Island and caught up with K-pod who passengers were delighted to watch. On our return to shore we had plentiful sunshine, eagles, seals, and porpoises.
We conclude with our Tuesday sightings -- another gorgeous summer day filled with sunshine. We observed J and K Pods off of East Point and got an extra special show of many spyhops and more than 30 breaches! Seeing that many consecutive breaches is uncommon and we are thankful to have been there to witness it. ~Amy W., Mystic Sea
June 22, 2015 -- Monday Funday!
The boat is still out but we already have an amazing day to report! As of 2:00pm the Mystic Sea has encountered 80+ Orcas on the west side of San Juan. Our beloved resident Pods – J, K, & L have been slowly headed southbound today doing breaches and rolls. There are several large bulls in this group.
Presently, we are headed towards inter island where there are reports of Transient Orcas off Blakely Island. There are also reports today of Transients off of Smith Island and Humpbacks near East Point and Patos Island. We’ve got whales in every direction on this gorgeous summer day! ~Amy W., Mystic Sea
June 22, 2015
As we enter into the height of our season, the whales are out in full force. On Saturday, Mystic Sea caught up with Transient Orcas at Smith Island who put on a marvelous show for our passengers. After viewing this group, we headed Northbound towards James Island where another group of Transients were seen. We then made our way towards Frost Island where passengers witnessed an eagle as well as sunbathing seals.
Our Father's Day trip was quite a treat! Around 1pm we came upon all three of our resident pods -- J, K & L near San Juan Island. The whales were sprawled out over 7 miles of waters from False Bay to Turn Point Lighthouse. There were upwards of 80 whales spanning this area, a truly breathtaking sight for everyone aboard. ~Amy W., Mystic Sea
Photos by Bonnie Gretz
June 16, 2015
Monday morning Mystic Sea headed west where they encountered inbound whales coming from Victoria. Members of J-Pod and K-Pod were making their way towards San Juan Island. Passengers had the pleasure of watching as these magnificent creatures did tail flaps, rolls, and showed their pectoral fins. Once the pods reached San Juan they split up to feed in the tides. Some went north, others went south. We watched the north group for a couple of hours as they headed towards Lime Kiln Lighthouse around 2:00pm. The boat headed back towards Anacortes by way of McArdle Bay later that afternoon. ~Amy W., Mystic Sea
June 15, 2015 -- Return of K-Pod
Mystic Sea had another phenomenal weekend of whale watching. We have been in every direction to see these beautiful creatures in their natural habitat. Over the last several days we have had the pleasure to observe humpbacks, transients, and 3 local orca pods – J-Pod, L-Pod, and the return of K-Pod! ~Amy W., Mystic Sea
Photos by Bonnie Gretz
June 9, 2015 -- Perfect Weekend
Mystic Sea had another fantastic weekend of sunshine and whales in the San Juans. It doesn't get any better than this! We started our weekend off Saturday with seven transient whales, who we caught up with off of Protection Island. Of the seven transients, one of them was a brand new baby -- no more than a week old! We were the only boat in the area as passengers enjoyed watching these lovely creatures. After about an hour watching these beauties, we headed back toward Lopez Island where we found L-Pod, one of our resident pods.
The following day we started off heading north as we got reports of orcas at Active Pass. We then cruised back down through Obstruction Pass to catch up with five to six minke whales off the south end of San Juan Island. We watched for more than an hour before making our way back through the Rosario Straits to Anacortes.
We ended our weekend Monday, with early morning orca sighting reports. When we got underway at 11:00am we headed out to Blakely Island and surveyed J-Pod, with all three of their babies. We observed them for 30-45 minutes before heading towards Decatur Island in search of humpbacks. We were fortunate to encounter two humpbacks -- a mother and her baby. On our return trip we found J-Pod again and enjoyed the view on this sunny, calm day. Finally, we returned to Anacortes by way of the Bellingham Channel, leaving us still boasting 100% sightings since our Orca season started on May 10th. ~Amy W., Mystic Sea
Several members of J-Pod. Photo by Jill Hein.
Onyx & Granny (J-2) tail flapping. Photo by Jill Hein
Triple Spyhop! Photo by Jill Hein
June 5, 2015 -- Generations
Friday was a gorgeous day on the Mystic Sea. The sun was shining as we made our way towards Salmon Bank where J-pod was feeding. We came across a group of orcas that were spread out as they ate. Eventually this motley crew came together and the naturalist on board got some amazing photos.Some of the orcas we were able to identify were J-34 Doublestuf, J-28 Polaris, and J-26 Mike, just to name a few! We encountered several generations of J-Pod including two of the new babies, their parents, and Granny who just celebrated her 104th birthday. It was another incredible day aboard the Mystic Sea. ~Amy W., Mystic Sea Charters
J-28 Polaris. Photo by Bonnie Gretz
J-34 Doublestuf. Photo by Bonnie Gretz
Several members of J-Pod. Photo by Bonnie Gretz
June 4, 2015 -- The Return of L-Pod!
We are excited to report that L-Pod was spotted yesterday, including a new addition to their pod. As we continue to encounter this pod we will be sure to keep you posted!
As of Noon today, the Mystic Sea has been watching Transient Orca's to the West and North of the San Juans! ~Amy W, Mystic Sea
June 2, 2015
Mystic Sea had another fabulous weekend of whale watching! On Friday we found 3 humpbacks at Skipjack Island, on the west side of Waldron. Passengers witnessed an amazing show from Big Mama, Wendy, and 1 mystery humpback. We also had the privilege to observe seals, porpoises, and eagles while soaking in the day’s sunshine.
Great weather continued for us on Saturday as we encountered Orcas and Humpbacks on our trip. The following day three humpbacks were sighted at Smith Island, seals were seen off of Lopez Island, and Sea Lions off of Whale Rocks!
On our Monday trip J-pod was in full force! The crew was first spotted on the west side of San Juan off of Battleship Island, and made their way up to Saturna Island. All of j-pod was present, including all three of their new babies! ~Amy W., Mystic Sea
Slick (J-16) & J-50, photo credit to Jill Hein
May 28, 2015
On Thursday, May 28, our morning started with sunshine and fog. We cruised through the heart of the San Juans and watched as J-Pod swam near False Bay. They were quite spread out as they jumped and did lots of tail flaps. On our return trip we, once again, found steller sea lions at Whale Rocks, including about twenty that were about 2000 pounds! We also saw seals at Alec Bay and Hughes Bay, along with Bald Eagles. The day ended around 4:30 as a gorgeous 75-80 degree day. ~Amy W., Mystic Sea
May 27, 2015
Last week’s trips did not disappoint! There was plenty of sunshine to enjoy throughout our cruises over Memorial Weekend. Between Thursday and Monday we encountered J-Pod, Transient Orcas, and Humpbacks. Mystic Sea has travelled from Anacortes all through the San Juan Islands, past Victoria to Race Rocks, and northbound up to Point Roberts as well. There has been a tremendous variety of whales in every possible direction! Each day has been amazing, and we are still at 100% success for Orca Trips this season. We are looking forward to another spectacular weekend of whales! ~Amy W., Mystic Sea
May 20, 2015 -- Sea, Land, & Sky
Monday, May 18, we started out the day with blue skies and sunshine. As Mystic Sea was departing at 11am we got word that J-Pod had returned and were off the west side of the San Juan Island heading north. We crossed through Rosario and Lopez and encountered these magnificent creatures at False Bay. The pod was spread out over a 3 mile area feeding, rolling, and doing tail flaps! Towards the end of our day we witnessed 3 breeches and 2 spy hops near Lime Kiln Lighthouse. It was an extraordinary show!
On our return trip passengers spotted up to 15 steller sea lions in the water and 1 large, 2000 pound male on the rocks! It was a breathtaking show of sea lions. Upon passing through Hughes Bay, Aleck Bay, and McArdle Bay four bald eagles were seen! Two of these majestic creatures were sitting on a nest of young eagles.
We finally returned to Anacortes around 4:30pm after an amazing day of beautiful weather and amazing wildlife. ~Amy W, Mystic Sea
May 17, 2015 -- History in the Making
The Orca Whales are in abundance as Mystic Sea returns to Anacortes!
On Sunday, May 17, we were thrilled to encounter as many as 15 Transient Whales -- a fantastic start to our Orca Season! The weather was gorgeous and the show was amazing. Our guests witnessed the transient whales swim through Deception Pass, showing off breaches, tail flaps, and jumps.
As we made our way through Deception pass, the whales split into 2 groups. A large group of 10-12, headed toward La Conner. We were delighted to watch these magnificent creatures for an hour. There was a massive bull, Chainsaw, with this group. He has a 6-7 foot dorsal fin, and is named due to the ridges on his fin.
Mystic Sea then headed back towards Deception Pass to witness something that many recall has not happened since 1987 -- the smaller group of 5, including 2 large bulls, swam back through Deception Pass -- against the tide! It was a breathtaking sight to behold.
Many photographs were captured during our trip today, take a moment to Like us on Facebook and keep an eye out for the photos from today's amazing show! ~Amy W., Mystic Sea
Chainsaw & friends. Photo by Sandra Pollard
Transients fighting the current in Deception Pass. Photo by Sandra Pollard
May 11, 2015 - Goodbye Grays!
Mystic Sea has had a phenomenal Gray Whale watching season this spring. The weather for Mother's Day weekend was fantastic and we were delighted to see humpbacks on both Sunday trips! We closed out our Gray season with lots of flukes and rolls. The humpbacks said goodbye offering quite a show!
Captain Monte is packing up the boat, and finishing up in Langway this week, to prepare Mystic Sea for Orca & Humpback season starting this weekend. We are thrilled tro be returning to Anacortes, as reports have been coming in for several weeks now that J, K, L Pods & Transients have been encountered in the San Juans.
We already have full boats going out this weekend -- Our first trip with available spots is Monday, May 18th. We are prepared for another spectacular season and look forward to seeing you soon! ~Amy W, Mystic Sea
Humpback whales, Photos by RJ Snowberger
May 6, 2015 - Change of Pace!
Our Gray Whale Watching Season is winding down at the end of this week -- only 6 trips left out of Langley this year! We are excited to have seen whales on 100% of our trips so far.
Mystic Sea started off last weekend with a variety of grays, including Patch, Little Patch, #22, and #383. On the last couple of outings passengers and crew have been keeping up with #22 and a whale that we haven't identified. Everyone else may have moved on already!
We have been thrilled to have great weather and great whales all season long, and we hope to continue that trend for the winding down of our Gray Whale season. Orca season is just around the corner! ~Amy W., Mystic Sea
#22 identifying marks, Photo by Bonnie Gretz
Someone's blowing bubbles! Photo by Bonnie Gretz
April 28, 2015 - Great Weather & Great Whales!
With just 12 Gray Whale Watching Trips left out of Langley for 2015, we are still going strong with 100% success at sighting whales on our cruises!
We had an amazing weekend April 23-27 with gorgeous weather and many of our favorite whales. One beautiful day we gazed upon 8 of our gray whale comrades. The majority of our recent sightings have been in the Port Susan area and near the shores of Langley. Passengers were fortunate to see Patch, Little Patch, #44 and #383, just to name a few!
It was our pleasure to host a well-behaved 2nd grade class on our Monday trip and we hope everyone had a great time. Thanks to everyone who joined us! ~Amy W., Mystic Sea
A blow from #22, Photo by Jill Hein
Fluke of #383 near the shore, Photo by Jill Hein
Patch, showing off his Patches! Photo by Jill Hein
April 22, 2015 - Whales & Cams
Another weekend of spectacular weather and whale watching? Check! Mystic Sea was out last Thursday through Monday watching Gray Whales (and Transient Orcas!) do their thing. Throughout the week we encountered 5-7 gorgeous whales per day. Some of the Gray Whales we identified were Patch (#49), Little Patch, #383, #22 and #21.On Sunday we were fortunate to observe 2 different Transient Orca groups! Unfortunately, we don’t have them identified, but there was a group of 5 and a group of 3 travelling together. Of these whales, there were several bulls – each with six foot dorsal fins! We were able to watch our large friends travel northbound to Saratoga, camp out near Coupeville overnight, and make their exit Monday morning out through Deception Pass into the Straights of the San Juan Islands.
In conjunction with the amazing whale sightings, we were also fortunate to speak with people from Cascadia Research on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. For the first time in history, Gray Whales have now been tagged through Cascadia’s program – but not to worry! – the tags are suctioned onto the backs of the whales and fall off within 24 hours, where they are then retrieved so information can be gathered. The process is non-intrusive, as they approach the whales with their 22 foot boat and use a large pole to suction the tag to the back of the whale. The tags not only give the whales GPS location for tracking, but also a camera feed showing underwater footage and what they’re eating.
To learn more about this tagging program, or see underwater photos, you can visit the Cascadia Research website. They were able to add a tag to number #383 (pictured below) and were kind enough to visit our vessel and talk with our passengers about the program. ~Amy W., Mystic Sea
Tag on #383, photo by Jill Hein
#383 Fluke, photo by Jill Hein
Fluke of DubKnuck (#44), photo by Sandra Pollard
April 15, 2015 - Just in Time!
It was a race against the weather on Monday aboard the Mystic Sea! We were fortunate to have calm waters and sunshine despite the dreary forecast, which called for downpour. On this surprisingly gorgeous day we encountered #44 and the beloved Patch off the East end of Gedney Island.
We then cruised back across to Camano Head where a mystery whale was seen. We got an amazing show -- lots of tail flukes and rolling for passengers to witness. Mystic Sea also found #22 feeding, just a few feet from the beach! We made our way past the Inn at Langley and the Boatyard Inn, where people were out on balcony's watching and capturing photos of the show. Town's people were along the beach and ringing the bell at the park during the phenomenal showing of this gentle giant's pectoral fin in the air as ge dug for mud shrimp.
We journeyed on past Boat Harbor and Sandy Point where we finally migrated away from this beautiful whale and back to our dock in Langley. We arrived just in time before the skies opened up! It was an amazing day that left us with our success rate holding steady at 100% for 2015. ~Amy W., Mystic Sea
Head Lunge, #22. Photo by Jill Hein
Patch, #49. Photo by Jill Hein
April 13, 2015 - Fun & Fundraising
With four short weeks left of the Gray Whale Watching season, we are pleased to continue to boast a 100% success rate for detecting whales on our charters. Last weekend continued the trend of fantastic weather and great whales in our sights daily. Guests aboard the Mystic Sea observed between five and seven whales per outing on Thursday through Sunday.
We encountered DubKnuck, Patch, and a variety of other whales on our most recent trips. We surveyed these beautiful creatures predominantly in the Saratoga Passage near Baby Island, Elger Bay, and Greenbank. We were pleasantly surprised by the whales return to this area, after an eight to ten year absence, due to a scarce food supply. We are thrilled to have them back now that the mud shrimp in this area are plentiful.
Sunday, Mystic Sea engaged in two trips, both of which boasted a great show. Passengers watched Patch and a mystery whale on the East end of Gedney Island and #44 near the Clinton Ferry Dock. Some of the thrilling whale activities included several spy hops and short breeches. Spy hops are when a whale stands on its tail in shallow water, sticking its head out to look around while feeding. It’s a rare treat to witness those gorgeous, gigantic eyes!
The evening trip on Sunday was Mystic Sea’s annual fundraising cruise to benefit OrcaNet and the Langley Main Street Association, where we were able to raise approximately $5000 for these organizations. We are so thrilled to be a part of this and are looking forward to next year. We are also looking forward to another fantastic trip on the Puget Sound waters today. ~Amy W., Mystic Sea
#22, Photo by Jill Hein
#22 in front, #21 in back. Photo by Jill Hein.
April 8, 2015 - Marvelous Monday!
Warm sunshine, calm seas, and whales were abundant on Monday. Mystic Sea started its voyage out of Langley and within minutes Gray Whales were already in view. Whale blows were observed just four miles west of Langley. We caught up with these beauties, #21 & Patch (#49), in time to see them roll, break, and do a slew of tail flaps. Approximately 2 miles to the west, towards Coupville, more blows were in view so we went to take a closer look. Upon arrival spectators saw #383, #22, and #56 all swimming tightly together doing tail flaps and rolls. On the return trip to Langley, whale #44 was seen near Baby Island on the Whidbey side. It was another amazing day with plenty of whales! ~Amy W., Mystic Sea
Patch (#49) & #21 Travelling together 4/6/15. Photo Credit Jill Hein.
April 6, 2015 - Another Whale-tastic Weekend
Throughout April, Mystic Sea has charters Thursdays through Mondays – and the last several days have been nothing short of fantastic for whale watchers on board.
So far this season, all of our old favorites have made appearances, except one. Whale enthusiasts have seen Patch, #22, DubKnuck (#44), Little Patch, and more.
The elegant creatures were noticed traveling North down the Saratoga Passage and were sighted near Camano, Coupeville, Langley and Oak Harbor. Each day between five and ten whales were observed – It was truly another remarkable weekend of phenomenal weather and full boats! ~Amy W., Mystic Sea
Fluke of #22, Photo Credit to Jill Hein
#383, Photo Credit to Jill Hein
March 30, 2015 - A Whale of a Weekend!
We are thrilled to report that this season Mystic Sea still has a 100% success rate on whale sightings, with more whales every day!
Friday, March 27th, 4 to 5 Gray Whales were spotted spread out between Gedney, Camano, and Langley. The weather was gorgeous – 70 degrees and sunny with a calm sea. We also had Whidbey TV on board our Friday expedition and shots captured by their team will be available on the Whidbey TV website soon!
Saturday was not only another beautiful day on the sea, but there were whales observed everywhere! There were sightings near the Clinton Ferry Dock, Gedney Island and Camano Head. There was a most spectacular viewing of 4 whales feeding on mud shrimp right up on the beach near Langley – showing their pectoral fins in 5 foot waters! A total of 8 to 10 Gray Whales were seen on this lovely day!
The excitement continued on Sunday while the sun made appearances on and off throughout the trip. The air was crisp, and a light breeze passed over the Mystic Sea. Some of our favorite locals, Patch and Little Patch, were seen blowing and digging up mud shrimp on the west end of Gedney Island. Other Grays were sighted off the east end of Gedney and at the Delta. On the return trip, whales were in view again off of Camano Head. In total, we estimate seeing 4 to 5 Grays on this brisk trip! ~Amy W., Mystic Sea
March 25, 2015 - It's a Girl!
On Tuesday, March 24th, 5 Transients were observed just off the Langley coast. Later that afternoon, 3 Gray Whales were also sighted.
During today's expedition there was a crisp, light breeze early on which gave way to pleasurable weather for the remainder of the day. In late morning, Patch, Little Patch, and #22 were seen at the Delta, with possibly a fourth companion. Number 22 is a Gray female that was identified this year and has made several appearances so far this month! They spent the morning feeding off the high tide, but by noon, this wandering collective was putting on quite a show near Hat Island. Numerous rolls and tail flaps were observed by people aboard the Mystic Sea. ~Amy W., Mystic Sea
March 23, 2015 - Last Weekend's Whales!
Passengers and crew aboard the Mystic Sea had a phenomenal weekend! While there was a sprinkle of rain early on Friday, the rest of the weekend was sated with clear skies, calm seas, and wildlife.
On Friday, March 20, several gray whales made an appearance including #49, Little Patch, and #22. Our three comrades brought along a mystery whale who has yet to be identified. The following day this lively foursome appeared together again off the coast of Elger Bay. Spectators witnessed the best showcasing of talent so for this season. The tightly formed group had oodles of surface time and tail flaps for display!
In addition to this gray gang, Saturday's patrons also encountered five transient whales, led by T46 -- a massive orca with a six foot dorsal fin! The group consisted of 2 males, 2 females, and a yearling.
On Sunday, 5 transients were spotted off the Clinton Ferry Dock on Whidbey, still with T46 at the helm. But, that's not all! Patch and #22 were seen near Glendale; an unidentified gray was spotted off of Clinton Ferry Dock; and another was seen off of Hat Island. There was an abundance of activity to behold!Stay tuned for another update as we continue to document these amazing creatures on their travels. ~Amy W., Mystic Sea
March 18, 2015
Mystic Sea Charters has been back in action since March 7th with a 100% success rate on whale sightings on the five trips they have taken thus far. While the weather has been diverse with warm sun, a bit of rain, and some wind, the whale sightings have been plentiful. During our Gray Whale season we depart from Langley, Washington where we have encountered our gorgeous whale friends in several locations so far. During our recent outings we have spotted whales near Gedney Island, Possession Point, Port Susan, and Camano Head. We also had a sighting at Glendale on the south end of Whidbey, as well as a shore sighting right off the town of Langley!
On our premier trip on Saturday, March 7th we had our first encounter of the season with Gray Whale #723. During the return trip on that beautiful day we also got a close up look at sea lion’s playing in the water and making a splash with seagulls. On Sunday, March 8th #723 was sighted a second time, as was our buddy Little Patch. The following Friday, March 13th, the passengers aboard our vessel spotted #723, Little Patch, and #56! Saturday, March 14th, all 3 of these magnificent whales made another appearance and brought along a friend, #22. Finally, on Sunday, March 15th, we caught up with #22 again, swimming solo this day. ~Amy W., Mystic Sea
September 14, 2014
It was a long haul today but well worth the trip in extraordinarily calm seas. We found some J-pod members way up by the coal docks in BC. There were many tail slaps, spyhops and breaches as they leisurely made their way towards Point Roberts. Granny came by Mystic Sea for a short visit and threw in a tail slap or two, Onyx was mostly by her side, and Mike and his family were close by also. What a treat to see them, and always a special treat to see J-2 Granny who is estimated to be 103 years old! What a day! Jill Hein, volunteer naturalist.
Photo Credit Jill Hein
September 7, 2014
Another magical day Sunday aboard the Mystic Sea - Capt Monte made the right choice - we headed south past Burrows Island Lighthouse and Deception Pass towards Partridge Point on the west side of Whidbey Island, in search of Transient (Biggs) killer whales. What a surprise when the first whales we encountered were members of L-Pod! At least 20 of these amazing whales greeted us (and just one other whale watch boat) as they entertained with many spyhops, tail slaps, belly-rolls and breaches. What an amazing sight, and what a privilege to see these animals, as they slowly traveled towards Lopez Island. Can it get any better than this? Jill Hein, volunteer naturalist.
September 3-4, 2014
Overnight dinner cruise and whale watching. Beautiful weather and flat calm seas. Transcient orcas was seen off Point Roberts. Traveled to the beautifully remodeled Semiahmoo resort. Now open check them out at http://www.semiahmoo.com/
September 1, 2014
We then encountered over 40 stellar seal lions in the San Juan Channel. As we crusied along the southeast side of Lopez Island we ran across transcient whales off James Island. We followed this group around to Black Rock and witnessed several kills. Weather made for another beautiful summer day.
Photo Credit Jill Hein
August 25-31, 2014
We had a fantastic week of whale watching. We saw residents, trascients, humpbacks, and minkes. The weather has been great. There has been calm seas and lots of sunshine.
Photo Credit Jill Hein
We had an early 9:15 start heading off into the fog - towards Point Roberts - where J-pod was hanging out. At the north end of Orcas Island the fog had lifted and we were off - that is – until we heard J-pod was heading further north towards the Fraser River! Very reluctantly, we turned around and were off to find other marine life, and had just checked out the Patos Lighthouse when we heard “whales” - not too far from us at Java Rocks, in the Canadian Gulf Islands! We were thrilled to find at least 8 whales, the T36A and T65A groups, with a very young calf who kept leaping out of the water as it followed mom. What a delight – for our boat-load of visitors from Minnesota and other states, who are here for the wedding celebration for Peter and Jessica tomorrow. When heading back to port in the beautiful sunshine, we managed to see lots of harbor porpoise, and harbor seals. Jill Hein, volunteer naturalist.
Photo Credit Jill Hein
August 19, 2014
Headed out into beautiful sunshine, with reports of J and L pods slowly heading north, then got the word that L pod turned south, so we cruised through San Juan Channel and caught up them at Lime Kiln. Just as we arrived, before Cpt. Kent could turn the boat around, big males Crewser (L-92) and Nyssa (L-84) and about 5 females surged by quite close, and then one of the males started breaching! He breached 3 times, so all the passengers saw that amazing power! As we turned south, we had whales on both sides of the boat, including L-72 Racer and her son Fluke (L-105). They were moving quite fast, some porpoising, some fishing behavior: all in all, another wonderful day! We checked out the big old Steller sea lions on Whale Rocks, and caught a glimpse of two bald eagles on the way back in. All the passengers were so appreciative and thrilled with their trip. Bonnie Gretz, volunteer naturalist
August 18, 2014
We set off towards WHALES again today, along the west side of San Juan Island, passing harbor porpoise and harbor seals with pups en route., We found members of all three pods – spread out over a large area, leisurely fishing back and forth, so relaxing to watch. With some avid birders on board, we were happy to find Red-necked phalaropes, and a tufted puffin off in the distance. Many many birds – great viewing in such calm conditions. Another great day aboard the Mystic Sea! Jill Hein, volunteer naturalist.
Photo Credit Jill Hein
August 12, 2014
Mystic Sea headed out with a report of "whales close by", and we caught up with them just west of Anacortes off Fidalgo Island! Spent a long and lovely time with J26 Mike and his ladies....some spy hopping, tail lobbing, one huge backwards leap out of the water by Mike with some large prey in his mouth! And a lot of fishing behavior, which is great to see. Most of our passengers were visiting and were really thrilled to see these beautiful whales. We also got a very close pass from a huge Steller sea lion, right next to the boat, as well some beautiful eagles sitting on the rocks, and some pretty darn cute harbor seal pups. All in all, another wonderful day! Bonnie Gretz, volunteer naturalist.
Photo Credit Bonnie Gretz
August 11, 2014
WOW - a 3-fer day, orcas, minke AND humpback whales, what an unexpected bonus! We found many harbor seals with pups on rock haul-outs en route to the whales, and found Southern Resident whales along the west side of San Juan Island, a mix of all three pods, leisurely fishing with a breach here and there. We watched them as they meandered northward, then headed further west and found “Big Mama” the humpback whale with her calf. She showed off her fluke for us, several times, then we headed back to the orcas as they had continued north towards Lime Kiln. We saw a few spyhops ---- and some x-rated behavior (let’s hope for some new babies??) as we started to head south, back to port, finding a minke whale feeding - with many many birds keeping it company. What a day. We checked out a couple of eagle nests, and found one adult still standing guard, although the young have now fledged. Another great day aboard the Mystic Sea! Jill Hein, volunteer naturalist (SSAMN).
Photo Credit Jill Hein
August 7, 2014
Phenomenal day out on the water. Trip started with some fog and then lots of sunshine. Encountered both J & K pod by Point Roberts. Great show. Then encountered 12 transcient orcas making several seal kills around Barnes and Clark Islands. We followed them around to the north side of Orcas to Obstruction Pass. Then as we was coming home we saw L pod on the west side of San Juan Island. And there was also transcients spotted off Beaumont Shoa east of Discovery Island. Great day and look forward to more like it.
August 2, 2014
And yet again - another spectacular day on the Salish Sea. Warm, calm seas, no wind, and wildlife! It wasn’t long after leaving Anacortes that we heard of whales to the north, just west of Patos Island. We traveled through the islands to President’s Channel, then on to the NW end of Patos where we found Biggs Killer Whales – the T037s – and they were *very* active. Breach after breach, and non-stop tail lobs from this group of whales as they headed across Boundary Pass. We reluctantly headed home, seeing harbor porpoise, many harbor seals and several eagles on the way ……what a treat to see these amazing animals! Jill Hein, volunteer naturalist.
Photo Credit Jill Hein
July 29, 2014
Was such a beautiful day. There was lots of sunshine and 80 degrees weather. The Mystic Sea proceeded southbound across Lopez Island over to Eagle Pt. where we had the pleasure of watching L pod and part of J pod. There was lots of tails slaps and several breaches. It was a joy to watch. Then on the return trip home we toured Aleck, Hughes and Mc Ardle Bay taking in the scenery. As we headed northbound through the Rosario Strait we saw lots of propoises and returned back at the dock by 4 PM.
July 28, 2014
Yet another spectacular day on the Salish Sea – calm water, warm weather, blue sky, AND Minke whales, harbor seals with pups, harbor porpoise, bald eagles, turkey vultures - plus resident Orcas all around us, wow, what a treat! We followed members of L-pod and some J’s along San Juan Island as they fished their way north to Eagle Point, seeing TWO salmon in the mouth of one orca! And a special treat to find a tufted puffin – not often seen in this area – with fish in her mouth, ready to head back to her burrow. Such a perfect day, but we really did have to return too - what an amazing day aboard the Mystic Sea! Jill Hein, volunteer naturalist
Photo Credit Jill Hein
July 23, 2014
We welcomed the much needed rain, dressed appropriately, and were awed by J-pod and K26 along the west side of San Juan Island as they fished their way north from Eagle Point to Henry Island. J-2 Granny thrilled us with a close pass-by, there were lots of tail-lobs, spyhops and some breaches. The rain didn’t deter our guests, although photography was a challenge. On the return trip we saw a lot of harbor porpoise, harbor seals with pups, and several bald eagles. It really was another great day aboard the Mystic Sea! Jill Hein, volunteer naturalist.
Photo Credit Jill Hein
July 18-21, 2014
What a great weekend for whale watching. We went 10 miles west of Victoria and encountered J & K pod. This tight group was doing lots of rolling and breaching. We also got the opportunity to see a humpback and calf off of Constance Bank. Then we had Minke whale sighting at Davidson Rock near Lopez Island. Great weather and calm seas made it fun to watch the whales. Traveling around the islands are also such beautiful sights to see. And the seals, porpoises and eagles in Washington are great.
Thursday, July 17, 2014
We went inner island and encountered L pod off the San Juan Channel. That was such a great show to see. As we continued to follow them we saw a portion of J pod off Henry Island, off the north end of San Juan. We did a complete circumnavigation watching them breaching, rolling, tail slaps and spy hops. We have had such great sightings of whales everyday since May 15th.
Tuesday, July 15, 2014
The Mystic Sea set sail for its tour into the fog. As it approached Cattle Pt. on the San Juan Island the fog was gone and there was plenty of sunshine. The sea was flat and calm. And almost immediately we saw K pod out and about. Phenomenal show. This show continued up to Eagle Pt. where we also saw J pod. Got word of a humpback whale spotted with a calf. We headed towards Hein bank where we encountered a mother and calf playing in kelp and rolling. This continued for 45 minutes. Left Hein bank headed for Davidson Rock and encountered 1 large minke whale and 50 harbor seals on the rocks.
Also on board was NBC Universal Sports Network with Eddyline Kayaks, doing a documentary on whale watching and kayaking off the San Juan Islands. They launched kayaks off the boat in the San Juan Islands. It was a pleasure having everyone on-board. Thank you all for a spectacular day.
Monday, July 14, 2014 SUPERPOD!!!
Early morning there was some fog. As we reach Eagle point the fog cleared to calm seas and lots of sunshine. About 12:30 is when we encountered all 3 pods milling around. We saw lots of spyhops, tailslaps, mating rituals, and breaching. Watching the superpod was just amazing. Its always so fun to watch around 80 whales. J, K, and L pods all swimming together. This was from Lime Kiln lighthouse to Eagle point. On the way back we encourtered lots of native wildlife. Eagles soaring overhead and seals enjoing the sun and water. Such a beautiful day.
Sunday, July 13, 2014
Slick (J16) and her three kids Mike (J26), Alki (J36) and Echo (J42) milled, breached, spy-hopped and tail-slapped off Turn Point Lighthouse, Stuart Island, to the delight of shore and boat-based whale-watchers privileged to see this close-knit family unit in their natural surroundings on another glorious Pacific Northwest day. Sandra Pollard, Naturalist on Mystic Sea
Photo Credit Sandra Pollard
Friday, July 11, 2014
Nice weather!!! Bright sunshine warm temps. As we sailed along the Rosario Strait and across the south side of Lopez Island we saw J & K Pods. For the first time this season we got a fantastic show from K-26 Lobo. We saw whales from Victoria to Eagle point along with seals and bird. There was lots of breaching, spy hops and tail slaps. On the return trip home in Hughes and Aleck bay there was 4 huge eagles nest. Saw porpoises in Rosario Strait and 4 bald eagles. Such beautiful wildlife to see.
Be sure to follow us on Facebook, for more updates and pictures. And if you have pictures post share them so others can see your experience.
Wednesday, July 9, 2014
The Mystic Sea set sail into the fog in search of whales. Reached the center of the San Juan Islands and the fog lifted. It was such a bright and sunny day the remainder of the day. We watched members of J pod swim around and fish. Then we encountered L pod. They were in a very playful mood. There was lots of breaches, tail slaps, and spyhops. We followed them along Stuart Island to Turn Point light house. On the return trip home enjoyed the gorgeous weather and the eagles flying overhead. Also got an opportunity to see seals basking in the sun. Another great day in the Pacific Northwest.
What a weekend!!!
This July 4th - 7th was awesome for whale watching. Surprising everybody, it seems that K-pod slipped into the Salish Sea overnight Tuesday and joined up with J and L-pod, to make the first “superpod” gathering for 2014! We found them in choppy seas by Kellett Bluff (Henry Island) as they traveled towards Stuart Island. Gray whales was spotted off of Whidbey Island by decption pass. We had an appearance of a minke whale near Hien bank that wanted to play with the Orcas'. 9 full breaches from the Minke. Humpback was spotted around Stewart and Spieden Islands. What a privilege to see this huge family of whales, traveling together in small mixed groups of 10 or so, so beautiful in the sunshine. We are so lucky to have them in our waters. Our passengers were delighted with such a wonderful show ….. another great day aboard Mystic Sea! Jill Hein, volunteer naturalist.
Photo Credit Jill Hein
Wednesday, July 2, 2014
Such a beautiful day for whale watching. Crusing through the inner islands, we saw lots of seals and porpoises enjoying the sunshine. Went along the northwest portion of the San Juan Islands and encountered a large group of whales near Battleship Island. There was lots of tail flapping, jumping and breaching. That was a fabulous show to see. On the return route near Spieden Island saw lots of eagles and other widlife. Phenonmenal sightings.
Tuesday, July 1, 2014
The cruise started its travel through the inner island. There they encountered a large school of harbor porpoises. Lots of action from J pod cruising off Davidson Rock, San Juan Island, breaches, jumping,and rolling and gentle play on yet another peaceful summer's day in the glorious Pacific Northwest. Sandra Pollard (SSAMN) - Author of "Puget Sound Whales for Sale"
Photo Credit Sandra Pollard
Monday, June 30, 2014
We set sail southbound through the Rosario Strait. On the south end of Lopez Island we encountered a seal rookery. We saw about 100 seals with their pups. As we continued to cruise around the San Juan Island we got a fabulous show from members of the J & L Pods. There was lots of breaching and tail slaps. Passengers on board had an awesome time watching the whales.
Photo Credit Bobby Ho
Friday, June 27, 2014
An interesting weather day, we started out with fairly strong winds and some (much needed) rain, expected to have rough seas but were pleasantly surprised along the western shores of the San Juan Islands. Then heard the magic word “whales” – and found J-pod and part of L-pod, really booking, south of Waldron Island, in calm seas!. Not the best photographic conditions with intermittent rain showers – but what a spectacular show as these whales porpoised towards Turn Point. What a treat, even if we were slightly wet. On the return trip we traveled through the beautiful Islands, had a few short sun-breaks and could see rain showers all around us. We saw harbor porpoises and many harbor seals – several with new seal pups. Another great day on the Mystic Sea! Jill Hein, volunteer naturalist.
Photo Credit Jill Hein
Thursday, June 26, 2014
Lots of sunshine and lovely blue skies. The boat travelled south bound out of Rosario Strait towards Davidson Rock. The south end of Lopez Island is pretty to see. Encountered L & J pods in False Bay off the San Juan Island. It was a fantastic show from some of the residents (L95, J24, & J32). Lots of breaching. As the trip continued around the San Juan and the inner islands there was also lots of seals and eagles. They are also amazing to see. Great sightings and wonderful weather made this an awesome cruise.
Wednesday, June 25, 2014
Caught up with J and L pod at Eagle Point, water smooth and sun shining. Headed north with lovely family groups, a lot of breaching and rolling over....nice white bellies with big pecs up in the air! Great, happy group of passengers, including some international guests, from Finland and Wales! Bonnie Gretz, volunteer naturalist.
Photo Credit Jill Hein
Tuesday, June 24, 2014
What a beautiful day! The Mystic Sea sailed to the north end of Orcas and came around the San Juan Channel. Then the inner islands near Yellow Island and encountered J pod and part of K pod. They where enjoying the sun as much as the passengers. It was spectacular sightings. Followed the whales through the Spieden Channel to Battleship. Lots of breaching and spy hops. Oh it is fun to be able to see. Photo Credit Sandra Pollard
Friday, June 20, 2014
Mystic Sea covered almost 100 miles today. Whales were spotted at Active Pass in Canada. They gave a phenomenal show and it was so much sunshine. What a way start to the weekend. There was 30 full breaches & 8-10 spy hops. Please check out our facebook page for pictures.
June 19, 2014
On the way back we took our time and enjoyed the sunshine as we cruised the southern end of Lopez Island, checking out all the neat little nooks and crannies along the way. Another highlight of the afternoon was when Captain Monte took us over to 'Harbor Seal Haven' on the south side of Colville. There were probably over 50 of them hauled out on the rocks, such cute little guys just basking in the sun. It was a glorious day!
Photo credits: Jill Hein
103 yr old Granny, breaching Blackberry, and a Minke whale too!
AWESOME DAY with 103 yr old GRANNY and breaching BLACKBERRY, amongst many, many other Orca whales in all directions off of the west side of San Juan Island, at least 100 seals hauled out on Colville Island, a speedy Minke whale off of Salmon Bank, a regal osprey perched on a snag on Lopez, and a gaggle of other beautiful birds . . . plus awesome weather, and a great group of passengers! Can't beat a day like today!
We have been seeing our Southern Resident J-pod members almost everyday, as well as great Humpback and Minke sightings. Due to some technical issues though, we have not been able to post our trip reports here on our website for the last couple of weeks. For those of you who enjoy following along, you may catch up with us on our Mystic Sea Facebook page, using the link below. It has been a FANTASTIC JUNE!For June 2-16 Trip Reports: https://www.facebook.com/MysticSeaCharters
Orca breach sequence photo credit: Richard Malzahn, June 15
Big Mama and calf photo credit: Jill Hein, June 6
Check out all our other photos from the past two weeks on our facebook page! https://www.facebook.com/MysticSeaCharters
T100C near Flat-Top Island, heading east. Photo credit: Jill Hein
Triple Orca Pod Sightings!
Welcome to June, Orca month! What a way to start it with TRIPLE orca pod sightings! We found members of J-pod led by matriarch J2 Granny, out by Henry Island. They were spread out doing lots of tail lobs, spy-hops, and breaches. Then we heard about – and found - Bigg’s killer whales (T-100s) between Flattop and Waldron Islands with T100C in the lead……and then - MORE Bigg’s killer whales on the west side of Orcas Island. WOW, how cool is that? Not only whales all around, but harbor seals, harbor porpoise, many seabirds, a spectacularly calm sunny day and very happy passengers!
~ Beachwatchers Naturalist, Jill Hein
Above: Granny, J2, Our first sighting of the day!
Below: Lots of Tail Lobs! Photo credits: Jill Hein
Orca's lunch and Minke whale fun
The weather warriors were rooting on our side today, with picture perfect conditions all day long! Approximately 1 mile south of Partridge Bank we got a phenomenal Minke Whale show with at least half a dozen whales circling our boat amongst at least 1,000 seagulls gathering in bait balls to feed. Onward, we were greeted at Shark Reef with two Bald Eagles and at least 100 Harbor Seals lounging in the sunshine!! Finally, we caught word of our Orcas, YIPPIE!! We immediately headed straight towards them, first cutting into Mud Bay, then we took a short cut through Lopez Pass and headed straight across Rosario Strait to Bize Point on Fidalgo Island just north of Deception Pass. Arriving on scene, the Orcas had just gone in for a kill! Oh my! From then on out, it was all oooh's and ahhh's aboard the Mystic Sea at the sighting of these beautiful animals. We were amongst the pod T65a consisting of 3 females, 2 males and 1 calf. They spent the better part of 30 minutes rolling through the glistening water along side the boat. We had whales and smiles in every direction, spectacular way to end our day! ~Mystic Sea Naturalist, Katie Grant
Photo credit:Katie Grant
Today's whale watch had us all on the edge of our seats! We cruised south through Rosario Strait, making a quick pit stop at the Burrows Island lighthouse, standing tall since 1906. Continuing on, Smith Island treated us with the always-adorable Harbor Seals as well as an abundance of Cormorants. We spotted our first Minke whale near Partridge Bank, then headed west toward Hein Bank where we searched for more. We continued the day with a bang off of Lopez Island with a Minke who gave us her best show! Surfaced to say hello, and we had multiple close encounters!! Minke whales are about 25 feet long and 15 tons, and quite a sight to see! We were homeward bound through the Davidson Rock area (my personal favorite location in the San Juans) and saw so much wildlife including porpoise, bald eagles, pigeon guillemot, harbor seals and also some gorgeous madrona trees! Great weather, great group, & great wildlife. Perfect day! -Katie Grant
Photo credit: Katie Grant
This evening, the Mystic Sea Charters is indulging in a donation cruise to thank the Anacortes High School Key Club! Great kids and picture perfect weather, couldn't have asked for a better evening! Special thanks to the Kiwanis of Anacortes for making this program possible, and a even bigger thanks to all the kids who participate. YOU GUYS ROCK! -Katie Grant
Mermaid rocks, photo credit: Katie Grant
Evening cruise with phenomenal scenery
Anacortes Whale Watching Kick Off!
It was a wonderful day to kick off our whale watching season in Anacortes! The day started off a tad chilly with slight overcast and a fair amount of wind, but took a turn for the best when the sun popped out and there was calm water ahead. There was a California Sea Lion hauled out on a buoy south of Cypress Island for all to see! We continued our journey through Thatcher Pass and around Lopez island soaking in all the beauty and wildlife the San Juans have to offer. We were welcomed into the San Juan channel, greeted by cute Harbor Seals and giant Stellar Sea Lions! As we continued south into the Straight of Juan De Fuca, we finally got our whales! Four rolling Minkie whales made several appearances. We wrapped up our successful day on the water cruising by Smith and Minor Island, a wildlife sanctuary. We saw at least 100 seals lounging in the sun and two bald eagles perched dominantly on a light house. All in all, it was just another beautiful, adventurous journey aboard the Mystic Sea.
The Mystic Sea with spectacular Mount Baker in the background, Photo credit: Sandy Pollard
And that's a wrap for our Gray Whale Season
May 12, 2014
Beautiful day for a cruise
Mirror-like conditions in Possession Sound today, winter jackets left behind - and soooo much to see. California and Steller sea lions on the channel marker, Harbor Seals, Pacific and Common Loons, Caspian Terns, Bald Eagles, Rhinoceros Auklets - but no gray whales spouted for us today. Are they already on their way further north? Jill Hein (SSAMN) (4 photos)
Patches (#49) made an appearance east of Hat Island at 12:25 pm, while at 1:10 pm #723 had passengers on Mystic Sea holding their breath as he traversed the Clinton/Mukilteo ferry dock in sight of the approaching ferry... All passengers gave a sigh of relief when #723 surfaced before waving farewell with his flukes and heading towards Possession Point.
Sandra Pollard (SSAMN), Naturalist on the Mystic Sea
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