whale watching in SanJuan Is., Washington

Feb 12th, 2006, 10:57 AM
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whale watching in SanJuan Is., Washington

Perhaps a stupid question ....
If Orcas can be seen from San Juan Island either free from Lime Kiln S.P. or for $59 on whale watching cruises, is there any reason why anyone would spend $100+ on whale watching shore excursions on an Alaska cruise to see humpbacks and orcas ?

I will be in Seattle May 12-May 18 followed by a 7-day cruise to Alaska with stops in Juneau, Skagway, and Icy Point. I plan to spend a day or 2 in San Juan; is there a good chance I will see whales in San Juan in mid-May ?

Does the S.J. Islands get lots of rain during that time ? I read from the "just a little gripe" post how horrendously rainy Seattle is at the present time. Thanks much.
banares is offline  
Feb 12th, 2006, 11:30 AM
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While orcas do frequently pass by Lime Kiln, you are not guaranteed to see them there as you would be on a whale wathcing boat which has tracking equipment and participates in a network that shares sightings. At Lime Kiln, you basically hang out there all day waiting to see them offshore. I have seen them come VERY close to shore at Lime Kiln, but they may stay quite a ways away as well. They may in fact not even go by Lime Kiln, but boats of course can go where they do. So a $59 boat trip from SJI does sound like a better deal than your cruise, but you won't see humpbacks from SJI-they don't live there.

Look at the Friday Harbor Whale Museum's website for whale watching statistics-there is a chart with recent and historical sightings by month.

May isn't a particularly rainy time-it CAN be overcast and cool, but it can also be warm-ish and sunny.
christy1 is offline  
Feb 17th, 2006, 09:08 AM
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thank you, christy1. I suppose for one who can't tell the difference between a humpback or an orca, the excitement of seeing one over the other would be the same. I mean, watching one kind of whale won't be any more fun than another
banares is offline  
Feb 17th, 2006, 10:25 AM
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If you do go on a whale watch tour, I'd suggest choosing an ethical operator - one who follows the guidelines for whale watching so as not to put these animals in danger. The Whale Watch Operators Association can give you a list of reputable whale-watch tour operators. San Juan safaris is one such operator; there are others too.

There are currently fewer than 90 orcas (aka killer whales) resident in the San Juans and they have just been listed as an endangered species.

Just so you know, you have a very good chance of seeing many different types of wildlife on the boat tours; birds, marine mammals, etc. Bring binoculars - they usually have some aboard, but you really don't want to be sharing them with lots of other people.

Lime Kiln state park is a lovely place even if you don't see any whales.

dsquared is offline  
Feb 17th, 2006, 10:39 AM
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The San Juans are in the "rain shadow" and get less rain than Seattle. And even in Seattle, it is often nice in mid-May. (June seems to be when it rains a lot).
enzian is offline  
Feb 17th, 2006, 11:50 AM
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Better hurry. The orcas have just been added to the endangered species list, and new regulations for boats, etc are in the works.

Bob Gardner
Bobmrg is offline  
Feb 20th, 2006, 12:14 PM
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thank you all for your replies and advice
banares is offline  
Feb 20th, 2006, 01:07 PM
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Hope you have a great trip!
dsquared is offline  
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