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Friday Harbor movie theater preparing for the 4th of July parade

This photo was taken on the evening of July 3rd 2014. Spending the fourth of July in the San Juan Islands is a family tradition for many Pacific  Northwesterners.
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Aboard the Odyssey, July 6th: Residents AND Humpbacks!!!

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July 6, 2014

Wow! Yet another fantastic day out on the water, after a brilliant and wildlife rich holiday weekend. The sunshine has stuck around after the 4th, and we took off from the harbor with some minor clouds overhead that were quick to part and cast some awesome sunshine our way.

We caught glimpses of the Mouflan Sheep on Spieden Island and then got our first sighting of the resident Orcas of J pod about an hour into the tour. Then, a wonderful surprise, a Humpback whale surfaced not 20′ from the Odyssey! A double whale species day. Absolutely amazing!

Check out our newest photos in the July 2014 Highlights album on our Facebook page. Photos of the amazing Humpack sighting are on their way!

~ The SJE Team, Captain Pete, Debbi (Naturalist), Jerusha (Naturalist), and Brittany (Naturalist) Humpback 7.6.14

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Stopping for Oysters at Westcott Bay Seafarms

A summer barbecue on San Juan Island would not be complete without fresh oysters. Residents of Friday Harbor and San Juan Island are lucky enough to have this world renowned oyster farm in their backyard.

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Touring Pelindaba Lavender Farm


After our visit to Ruben Tarte State Park we found inspiration to visit the Pelindaba Lavender Farm on Hawthorne Road. We arrived about 5:30 p.m. in the evening on June 29th… the weather was a bit overcast so the photos are not too spectacular. Also the color of the lavender is not quite as purple as it can be a little bit later in the summer. We will make a point to stop back by there again on a sunnier day to snap off some awesome photos.

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Sunken Park is a fun spot for kids in Friday Harbor


Families visiting Friday Harbor will find this sunken park a nice little resource. It makes a great spot for the kids to explore and hang out while the adults get their shopping, dining, and browsing done around town. It’s located right above the Friday Harbor ferry landing on the corner of Harris & B. » Continue reading “Sunken Park is a fun spot for kids in Friday Harbor”

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Aboard the Odyssey: June 28th

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We cannot help but feel so lucky to do what we do on days like today. Blue, sunshine filled skies, and a full SD card of photos of  J pod, harbor porpoise, and bald eagles. What an amazing wildlife month June has been this year. As we approach July and the promise of even better weather, the whole team is excited about what is in store for us this season.

Today, as we traveled south towards Cattle Pass and on up to Eagle Point, Princess Angeline (J17) and her offspring Moby (J44) gave us quite a surprise, surfacing close enough for all on board to witness a beautiful mom/offspring sighting. Mako (J39) also made the trip memorable by breaching near the Odyssey, making for exciting photo moments!

We saw a bald eagle perched on Goose Island in the middle of meal time, and harbor porpoise were spotted all around San Juan Channel. One of those perfect weather and wildlife days. We cannot wait to get back out there tomorrow.

~ Captain Pete, Jerusha (Naturalist), Debbi (Naturalist), and Brittany (Naturalist)


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Visting the Doctors Office Coffee Shop on San Juan Island

This great little coffee shop is located right next to the Friday harbor ferry landing. As with most coffee shops around these days they have free WiFi. The twist here is that they keep their WiFi on 24 hours a day and it is not security protected. So if you have the battery life you can feel free to sit out on their steps and surf the Internet. They have sandwiches, fresh juices, ice cream, wraps, all sorts of caffeinated beverages, postcards, multiple dining tables, an ATM outside, great views of the ferry landing, and great prices. And of course you cannot beat the proximity to the ferry landing. Many local islanders love to use their WiFi connection while waiting in their cars for the ferry. This place has been in business for over 14 years. They also have a nice selection of magazines and secondhand books for sale.

Doctors Office Official Website | Doctors Office on Facebook

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July 8th through 14th

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Birds fill the air on the South end of the island.

With each passing month, the beauty of the islands gets a little more apparent. What a fantastic summer we are having so far. Orcas are a frequent sight, and with the beautiful backdrop of the Olympic Mountains in the distance, there’s nothing that can even compare. We had a great second week of July; tons of whale sightings, birds scattered all about the water and shore, and even a couple of sea lion sightings! Those are the days that we love on the Odyssey – wildlife on all sides and beautiful scenery.


A sea lion perches himself on the rocks, soaking up some sun. The seagulls seem less than impressed!


Seals lie on the rocks, performing one of their most important tasks of the day (no, not napping!). Seals must raise their core temperature by lying out in the sun in order to avoid hypothermia.


Various birds can be seen at the South end of the island.


An Orca surfaces along one of the prettiest backdrops we have to offer here in the San Juans – the majestic Olympic Mountains.


Orcas surface all together.


Two orcas jump through the water together.


An orca dives back down into the water.


A bald eagle checks out the view.


Water runs off the orcas’ back.


A salmon jumps out of the water, noticing that the orcas are nearby.


Beautiful Mt. Baker, one of the largest mountains in the Cascade Mountain range, and our beautiful lighthouse.

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An orca spyhops.

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Seals lie in the sun, warming up their core temperatures.

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June 17th-June 23rd

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A bald eagle sits atop a tree, keeping as close of an eye on us as we are on him!

What a spectacular week filled with all kinds of wildlife! Humpbacks, Minkes, and of course, the Orca whales, all made an appearance, giving us some beautiful photos and a lot of wonderful memories made out on the water. What an incredible summer we’re having here in the San Juan’s, and how neat that we get to share it with our guests, locals, and wildlife alike!


A minke whale breaks the calm water.


You are sure to find an abundance of birds out on the South end of the island!


Obviously ready for his close up, a seal watches the boat before diving back down under the water.


A tufted puffin begins to take off from the water. We usually only catch a glimpse of these little guys about twice a year, so we were lucky to catch him this time around!


A mother and her calf stuck to each other’s sides as we watched them.


A humpback whale dives back down into the smooth water.


We couldn’t tell if we were more excited to see the whale, or the whale was more excited to see us, but they certainly put on quite the spectacle!


A tufted puffin gets ready for take off.


Seals sprawl out on the rocks near the South end of the island.

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A perfect start to our 20th season

May 16, 2013 154Our 20th season started off with a bang. This past week has been spectacular for whale watching in the San Juan Islands.  It started off with an amazing humpback whale sighting.  We traveled northwest into Canadian waters to get to this beautiful animal.  This humpback whale put on quite a show for everybody.  Shortly after we got there, it jumped out of the water completely.  What an enormous splash it made after that breach.  It then proceeded to show us its pectoral fins, swam upside down and fluked multiple times.  After we left the humpback whale, we saw harbor porpoise by the dozens.May 4, 2013 026

We have also been seeing minke whales, these are a baleen whale that are just now returning to these waters after a winter long absence.  We had some really nice passes, allowing for great photos.  We were also able to see some Steller sea lions on whale rocks, one of my favorite animals that we have here in the San Juans.  At ten to twelve feet long and weighing almost 2000 pounds, these guys are absolutely huge.

Whale and wildlife watching can be wonderful rain or shine.Typically Friday Harbor and the San Juan Islands get about half of the rain that Seattle sees. However, we do get the clouds at times and a few of the days this past week were no exception. That didn’t dampen our spirits as we headed out to look for wildlife.  We had no whale reports when we left the dock, so we decided to go where we went the day before to look for minke whales.  We had just got to Cattle Pass, which separates Lopez Island and San Juan Island’s southern shores, when we got word from another whale watching vessel that he had found some transients orcas, not far from where we were!  We headed right there and in about 20 minutes we started seeing the dorsal fins and splashes from the killer whales.  These whales were in a great mood!  From the time that we got there until the time we left, they were breaching, tail lobbing, spy hopping and doing every other type of surface behavior that whales do.  We identified these whales as T49B and T65A groups of transients.  We stopped off at whale rocks to see the Steller sea lions and the harbor seals.  There was even a bald eagle sitting on one of the rocks.  Yet another successful day aboard the Odyssey.
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During mid-week we got a report that all members of J Pod had returned to the Salish Sea. What great news to hear these animals are back home. So on the morning of the 16th, we were all prepared to have our first encounter of the season with J pod.  There was an early report of orcas up in Georgia Strait and we all assumed that it must be J pod.  We started heading towards East Point on Saturna Island and received word that it wasn’t resident orcas, but more transients.  So, we were a little bit disappointed that we weren’t going to see J pod, but still excited to see orcas.  Then another group of orcas was found and it was a larger group.  We thought that this must be J pod, so we turned the Odyssey and headed towards that group.  While we were on route, the vessel that found the second group told us that it wasn’t J pod either, but a group of fifteen or more transients.  Oh well, here we go; it’s still orcas and a large number of them to boot!  We got out into Rosario Strait and met up with the transient group of orcas.  It was a bright sunshiny day and the whales were awesome.  We watched the T100s, which included one really big male.  There were very few boats and the weather was beautiful.  As we were about to leave, we saw another blow up ahead of the transients!  It was humpback whale!  The transient orcas circled it a couple of times then kept on going.  Being able to witness orca whales, minke whales, humpback whales, sea lions, seals, eagles, multiple birds and the views of Mt. Baker and the Olympic Mountains is why we love our jobs and these beautiful islands. It’s been a perfect week and what a spectacular way to start our 2013 season.

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These are the days we cross our fingers for!!!!! The chance to see the superpod happens only a handful of times every summer, and each time we are reminded of just how incredible these creatures are. We circumnavigated San Juan Island today, locating members of all three pods, J, K, and L. A gorgeous sunny day allowed for lots of pictures (make sure to check out our facebook page with GREAT photos of all tours!). We got the full experience of Pacific Northwest wildlife today, spotting the Steller Sea Lions as we rounded Cattle Pass, and the Mouflan sheep and Fallow deer on Spieden Island.

The highlight of the tour was spotting J49 and the newest orca calf of J pod, born August 6th! The orcas were in a brilliantly playful mood, breaching, spy hopping, and tail slapping. It was definitely a tour to remember.

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Time with the transients!

Though a bit overcast out today, we had another fantastic day on the water with the transient orcas, including the large male T19b. Our course took us north and eventually towards Henry Island. Along the way we spotted a bald eagle on Battleship Island, as well as saw the ever novel Mouflan sheep of Speiden Island. A fun day of sightings and perfect Pacific Northwest weather!

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