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Sea Quest Kayak Tours & Whale-Watching Blog

Orca Whales Prevent Shark Attacks on Kayaks in the San Juan Islands

The San Juan Islands would seem to be an ideal habitat for great white sharks, the species infamous for knocking kayak fisherman and surfers into the water off California and Oregon a couple of times each year. Our huge populations of seals and sea lions and cool waters must be very attractive to these apex predators. But to the puzzlement of many, great whites have never been recorded in the San Juan Islands or...

San Juan Islands Kayaking Tours – Keeping it Pure & Simple!

Being the first company on San Juan Island to provide kayak tours using professional standards, we’ve seen a lot of copy-cat companies pop up over the years. They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery so we should take some comfort in all of this mimicry. But we can't help but feel bad for the folks that end up on kayak tours using sub-standard equipment, poorly trained guides, and no emphasis on...

Orca Whale Darting Begins Badly in the San Juan Islands of Washington

Our last blog entry discussed the dangers from a new study that involves dart tagging the resident orca whales in Washington - the same friendly orcas we enjoy watching on our kayaking tours in the San Juan Islands. Despite widespread criticism, the NOAA research team darted the first orca whale on February 20. The target was J-26 (aka “Mike”, named after deceased pioneering killer whale biologist Michael Bigg) a 21 year old who is...

San Juan Islands Killer Whales at Risk to New Invasive Darting Study

A new orca whale research project for the San Juan Islands of Washington has just been approved by the National Marine Fisheries Service, the infamous federal agency known for constantly blocking protections for marine mammals or bungling their conservation management. This study will directly impact the killer whales we enjoy observing on our San Juan Islands kayak tours. This new study involves shooting metal tags that are known to cause major tissue damage and...

Birding Washington’s San Juan Islands: Bluebirds Return After 40 Year Absence

Bluebirds used to be a favorite of San Juan Island bird watchers as their bright colors and cheerful warbling sounds could be enjoyed near most farms, orchards, and woodlots. Unfortunately, these beautiful thrushes completely disappeared over large portions of their former range across North America, including Washington’s San Juan Islands. Bluebirds were victims of the invading European starling hordes and were quickly overwhelmed in the competition for nesting cavities. Prior to the introduction of...

July Sightings Report: Killer Whale Kayaking Tours – Friday Harbor, Washington

July was another superlative month for killer whale watching kayak tours in the San Juan Islands, near Seattle,  Washington. Orca whale encounters typically reach their peak in July and the weather is usually fantastic, too. This July did not disappoint – less than ½ of rain fell and high temperatures ranged in the 60-70s. Our out-of-state guests found welcome relief on their Friday Harbor kayaking vacations. Orca whales were sighted by biologists in the...

Washington Kayakers & Orca Whale Watchers Celebrate Victory for Salmon Conservation

People who enjoy orca whale watching and kayaking in Washington’s Salish Sea rejoiced at yesterday’s news. U.S. District Court Judge James Redden ruled that the National Marine Fishers Service (NMFS) miserably failed yet again to produce either a legal or scientifically adequate plan to protect endangered salmon from extinction. This is the 3rd time in 10 years that the judge has ruled against NMFS and demands that they improve their shoddy efforts that are...

June Report: Kayaking with Orca Whales in the San Juan Islands, Washington

Our orca whale watching kayak tours in the San Juan Islands of Washington began well this summer and here is our success report for June. Cetaceans (either whales or their small cousins the porpoises) were sighted on 80% of all our kayak tours combined. We encountered killer whales on 80% of the camping trips! Orca whales were sighted on 100% of our 5-day San Juan kayak expeditions. The 3-day San Juan kayaking trips found...

Part 3: Federal Management of Killer Whales in San Juan Islands is Failing – Not Based on Science

NMFS (National Marine Fisheries Service) claims their new orca whale watching regulations for kayakers and kayak tours in the San Juan Islands are based on science, but the overwhelming majority of field scientists who work with wild orca whales disagree. As do those who know orca whales intimately, such as our kayak tour guides who have been working in close proximity to killer whales for decades and understand their behavior far better than government...

Part 2: New Kayaking with Killer Whales Rules in the San Juan Islands are Arbitrary & Hypocritical

The new whale watching rules we discussed in our previous article apply to kayaks and most commercial and private boats. They are meant to protect the orcas from sound pollution that can interrupt hunting and cause stress in whales. Strangely, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) applied these new regulations to include silent sea kayaks while exempting freighters and military vessels. Obviously, these huge ships are the fastest and loudest in the whales’ habitat,...


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