A short ferry ride or flight from mainland Washington takes you to one of the best kept secrets of the Pacific Northwest, the San Juan Islands. Whether it’s the sanctuary of a luxury retreat amid beautiful undiscovered coves and beaches, or the possibility of seeing the three pods of orca whales and bald eagles, or the buzz of charismatic art galleries, museums and restaurants you’re seeking, the islands offer it all in abundance.
Choose from a variety of luxury accommodations on offer and enjoy the treasures the islands have to offer in total opulence.
For the ultimate experience to complete your lavish vacation, don’t miss a whale watching tour from San Juan Island. The sight of orca whales in their natural habitat is priceless and rare and can be done from the San Juan Islands!
In addition to money, knowledge as they say is also power, so here’s a chance to learn more about the mesmerizing mammals of the waters around the San Juan Islands. Cram in these ten fascinating facts before you set out and astound your friends with your new found knowledge.
Did you know?
1. Orca whales are actually the largest dolphins in existence. It sounds incredible but it’s true. These oversized mammals weigh up to 12,000 lbs and can measure up to 30 feet or more in length.
2. As it is with humans, so with the whales. A female whale can live up to the grand old age of 90 in the wild with the males managing around 50 to 60 years. Sadly, it’s bad news for captive Orcas of either sex; the average life expectancy for whales in captivity is only around 20 years. Something to ponder next time you head to Orlando’s Sea World. Males will stay with their mothers their whole lives.
3. As you’ll see (or hear) for yourself during your whale watching tour from San Juan Island, orca whales vocalize to communicate with each other. The clicks and grunts are unique to each pod enabling other pod members to quickly recognize members of their own family. There are thought to be three pods in the waters around the San Juan Islands, all with their own ‘accents’ (Southern drawl anyone?) The resident orca pods in the San Juan Islands come to the San Juan Islands to breed and socialize. J, K and L pod are often seen together and they even have a second common language that everyone in the pod uses to communicate among each other.
4. These mammals are intelligent, make no mistake. Not only are their brains as structured and as developed as our own, they are five times larger.
5. Orcas are often referred to as ‘killer whales’ but not because they kill humans. The ‘killer whale’ name emanates from the fact that they feed on other dolphins and smaller whales.
6. Orcas spend the majority of the time looking for food. On your whale watch tour you’ll probably see them diving as they forage. On occasions some orcas have been known to travel hundreds of miles in search of fresh food. They need it; orcas devour 5% of their own body weight on a daily basis – that’s a whopping 500 lbs of food every single day.
7. Orca whales are among the fastest sea creatures and can travel at speeds of up to 30 mph. You’ll see how agile, graceful and adept they are on your whale watching tour from San Juan Island.
8. The resident orca whales eat primarily fish with Chinook salmon being their food of choice because orcas share their food with members of their pods and Chinook (king) salmon is about twice a large as any of the other fish they eat so it is more bang for their buck. Sadly, Chinook salmon is now only at 5% of its population that it was fifty years ago because of dams, over fishing, spawning habitat pollution from logging and development from communities.
9. Every Orca has a unique mark behind its dorsal fin giving it unique features like a fingur print. It helps researchers to identify them. If you watch closely you’ll quickly be able to identify the different whales as they dive – and as your jaw drops!
10. A final fascinating fact about the Orca whales is that the males will stay with their mothers their whole lives.
Orcas aren’t the only whales you’ll catch sight of on your whale watching tour from San Juan Island. Both Minke and Grey whales are also occasionally spotted in the emerald seas foraging for food and entertaining tourists, but that’s enough ‘cramming’ for one day.
The whale watching tour will be only one part of your luxury vacation in the San Juan Islands. Relax and indulge yourself on a never to be forgotten trip of a lifetime. Go on, you deserve it.