Lunch with a sea lion

Here are the last of my wildlife shots from our San Juan Islands excursion with Puget Sound Express. We came upon a Stellar, or Northern, sea lion enjoying some lunch. It was another of many exciting moments.

Lunch was probably a salmon. Now…how did we find this one sea mammal in a very large body of water?

The poor guy was being mercilessly harassed by a flock of seagulls that dive bombed him, pecking at the fish in his jaws.

Think about that today if you’re among those who have a feast planned for Easter and dread dinner table conversations. It could be much worse.

There were other sea lions not far away that seemed content with their lot.

Porpoises and dolphins

After our first whale sighting our Puget Sound Express captain, Christopher Hanke, spied dolphins playing in the wake of a nearby boat. He volunteered to see if he might lure them into the wake of our boat and he did just that. Soon we had Pacific white-sided dolphins virtually flying beside and behind the boat.

Porpoises also came along for the fun. They matched the speed of the boat, close to the hull, or nearby in the wake, breaching and leaping as we sped along. This one is either a Dall’s porpoise or a harbor porpoise. Dolphins have sleeker bodies than porpoises and the jaw structure and teeth are different.

I’ve always wanted to see dolphins do this. It was one of my trip highlights.


Puget Sound Express (PSE) guarantees that its customers will see whales on their whale watching tours. Their captain and staff stay in contact with other tour boats and make a real effort to find and follow them.

We kept a respectful distance each time we came upon orcas, or killer whales, on two of our three days of travel. This was a pod of five and the PSE staff identified the group. There are both resident and transient pods in our area.

These whales are actually part of the oceanic dolphin family. They surface briefly to breathe. I have a couple dozen shots of their dorsal fins, all that’s left to view if you don’t catch them quickly as they surface.