Wow! What a gorgeous first day as we sailed north from Seattle to Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. After a stunning sunrise and daily briefing from our expedition leader John Pachuta, we disembarked for a morning of exploration. Guests visited the American and English war camps and learned about the riveting history of the Pig War and the creation of U.S. boundaries around the San Juan Islands.
After a delicious lunch we hopped into Zodiacs and jetted through Cattle Pass, the waterway between Lopez Island and San Juan Island. Our voyage was riddled with birdlife, from common murres to pelagic cormorants, as well as cute harbor seals and playful Steller sea lions. The waves were calm, the sun was shining, and the marine mammals gave us all quite a show! It was a great first day that covered history, ecology, wildlife, birding, and more. Nothing could end the day finer than a visit from the Center for Whale Research on Friday Harbor. Researchers and interns joined us for cocktail hour to present on the history of killer whales in the Salish Sea. They shared their fascinating research and extensive analyses of killer whale family behavior, post-reproductive females, and ongoing threats and conservation efforts surrounding these largest members of the dolphin family.