Whale’s Gift Restores Kayakers’ Spirits Christmas Day in the San Juan Islands


The current was weakening towards slack – the moment between tides when the sea becomes motionless and kelp bulbs expose themselves to the calm pewter surface of Puget Sound. As I contemplated the stillness from the cockpit of my kayak, I re-considered my choice of not notifying anyone of my plan for kayaking in the … Read more

The History of Sea Kayaking – Sea Quest Kayak Tours/San Juan Islands

Sea kayaking is a technology that is at least 4,000 years old. Peoples of the high northern latitudes (Greenland, Alaska, Russia, and Canada) were the first to invent wood- or whale bone-framed boats covered with a watertight skin. Some experts claim the Inuit were the first to invent these ingenious boats while others suggest it … Read more

Orca Whale Darting Begins Badly in the San Juan Islands of Washington

Our last blog entry discussed the dangers from a new study that involves dart tagging the resident orca whales in Washington – the same friendly orcas we enjoy watching on our kayaking tours in the San Juan Islands. Despite widespread criticism, the NOAA research team darted the first orca whale on February 20. The target … Read more

San Juan Islands Killer Whales at Risk to New Invasive Darting Study

A new orca whale research project for the San Juan Islands of Washington has just been approved by the National Marine Fisheries Service, the infamous federal agency known for constantly blocking protections for marine mammals or bungling their conservation management. This study will directly impact the killer whales we enjoy observing on our San Juan … Read more

Birding Washington’s San Juan Islands: Bluebirds Return After 40 Year Absence

Bluebirds used to be a favorite of San Juan Island bird watchers as their bright colors and cheerful warbling sounds could be enjoyed near most farms, orchards, and woodlots. Unfortunately, these beautiful thrushes completely disappeared over large portions of their former range across North America, including Washington’s San Juan Islands. Bluebirds were victims of the … Read more

July Sightings Report: Killer Whale Kayaking Tours – Friday Harbor, Washington

July was another superlative month for killer whale watching kayak tours in the San Juan Islands, near Seattle,  Washington. Orca whale encounters typically reach their peak in July and the weather is usually fantastic, too. This July did not disappoint – less than ½ of rain fell and high temperatures ranged in the 60-70s. Our … Read more

Washington Kayakers & Orca Whale Watchers Celebrate Victory for Salmon Conservation

People who enjoy orca whale watching and kayaking in Washington’s Salish Sea rejoiced at yesterday’s news. U.S. District Court Judge James Redden ruled that the National Marine Fishers Service (NMFS) miserably failed yet again to produce either a legal or scientifically adequate plan to protect endangered salmon from extinction. This is the 3rd time in … Read more

Part 3: Federal Management of Killer Whales in San Juan Islands is Failing – Not Based on Science

NMFS (National Marine Fisheries Service) claims their new orca whale watching regulations for kayakers and kayak tours in the San Juan Islands are based on science, but the overwhelming majority of field scientists who work with wild orca whales disagree. As do those who know orca whales intimately, such as our kayak tour guides who … Read more

Part 2: New Kayaking with Killer Whales Rules in the San Juan Islands are Arbitrary & Hypocritical

The new whale watching rules we discussed in our previous article apply to kayaks and most commercial and private boats. They are meant to protect the orcas from sound pollution that can interrupt hunting and cause stress in whales. Strangely, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) applied these new regulations to include silent sea kayaks … Read more

Winter Kayaking in the San Juan Islands: Orca Whale Watching Report – Biggest Bull is Missing

It’s been a strange winter in the San Juan Islands of Washington state. Fickle weather and inaccurate forecasts have made it difficult to lead many kayak tours this season. Compared to the horrendous storms the rest of the country has suffered with, we have been fortunate to have much milder conditions in Washington and the … Read more

Salmon Plan Threatens Orca Whales in the San Juan Islands

salmon orca

The federal government’s new plan to save salmon in Washington appears to be the typical politically-influenced poppycock that we’ve come to expect from the agencies in charge of saving salmon, orca whales, and our oceans. An intelligent salmon management plan for the Columbia River is critical to saving the threatened killer whales of the San … Read more

New Research on Sperm Whales & Albatrosses: Ocean Wanderers Can’t Hide from Pollution

Research Points to the Inescapable Dangers of Toxic Chemicals – Sperm Whale Study Even whales living in the remote Galapagos Islands appear to have been exposed to higher levels of pollutants than those in other areas of the Pacific, despite the islands isolation from cities and industry. New research, published this month in Environmental Health … Read more

August Report: Kayaking with Orcas in the San Juans – a Summer of Abundance!

August was another solid month for orca whale watching on our San Juan Islands kayak tours. Starting in June, we had an unbroken streak of daily killer whale activity in Washington’s Salish Sea that ran for 83 straight days until August 20th when they mysteriously disappeared. Fortunately, the orcas quickly returned after being absent for … Read more

Huge Salmon Runs Lead to Best Orca Whale Watching Kayak Tours Ever in San Juan Islands

Vast numbers of leaping silvery salmon have been a frequent sight this summer in the San Juan Islands, a scintillating abundance that we haven’t enjoyed for the past couple of decades. This year’s salmon productivity has led to lots of well-fed wildlife and a record-setting orca whale watching kayak season in the San Juans near … Read more

Spring Birding Tour Surprises in San Juan Islands of Washington

Our spring birding tours on San Juan Island have been very productive with some occasional surprises. April is an interesting month for bird watching in Washington state as many winter visitors overlap with newly arriving summer breeders and passing migrants. This makes for some great diversity on our bird watching tours in April and May. … Read more

Gray Whales Survive Rare Encounter with Orcas near Seattle, Washington


Last week three gray whales were seen traveling together near Seattle, Washington. Their peaceful migration northwards was interrupted by a pod of “transient killer whales”, the type of orca that mainly eats other marine mammals. Groups of transient orcas are known to kill gray whales, especially calves. Encounters between transient killer whales and gray whales … Read more

Announcing New Alaska Kayak Tour – Kayaking with Glaciers & Whales


Sea Quest announces a new Alaska kayak tour in Prince William Sound. Like our original Alaska kayaking trips, the new Alaska kayak adventure was designed to include the best that coastal Alaska has to offer: fantastic humpback whale watching, stunning wilderness scenery, and amazing glacial geology. But the new Prince William Sound kayaking adventure offers … Read more

Killer Whale Birth in San Juan Islands – Population Highest in 5 Years


The latest confirmed birth, recorded on February 21 in L-pod, brings the “southern resident” killer whale community population up to 89 whales. Their population, believed to have been historically in the high 100s, was cut in half or worse by captures for marine parks, which ended in the 1970s. Pollution and declining salmon populations then … Read more

San Juan Islands Kayak Tour Guides Want Captive Orca Whales Released


 Sea Quest Kayak Tours guides call for all aquariums to release their captive orca whales back into the wild. Having considered the scientific facts, studied the orca whales firsthand for several decades on our sea kayak tours in the San Juan Islands, and using our accumulated knowledge as scientists, educators, and naturalists, we find the … Read more

No More Kayaking with Orca Whales?!


Amazingly enough, the National Marine Fisheries Service has a plan to ban kayaking on the west side of San Juan Island in the heart of the orca whale watching zone. Without the backing of any scientific studies that show kayaking with killer whales has any negative effect on the orcas, NMFS was planning to shut … Read more

Jumbo Squid Invading Washington Good or Bad for Orca Whales?


Jumbo Squid, also called Humboldt Squid, are invading Washington’s Salish Sea and their effects on orca whales is being questioned. These swift predators grow 7 feet long, live in huge schools, and could have a major impact on the San Juan Islands’ orca whales if they become permanently established. The “Diablo Rojo” eats everything from … Read more

Killer Whales Photographed Attacking Sharks

Amazing photographs taken by Ingrid Visser of killer whales attacking and killing a mako shark have recently been published. Although Ingrid’s studies take place in New Zealand, the hunting techniques she describes are very similar to those used by killer whales pursuing seals in the San Juan Islands of Washington: cooperative herding, surpise attacks, and … Read more

San Juan Islands Salmon Recovery Projects Will Benefit Orca Whales


A total of seven different local organizations will receive more than $1.4 million in funding to improve salmon habitat in the San Juan Islands of Washington, our main sea kayaking base. This is great news for our orca whales as their most important food source are salmon, especially locally bred chinook. All five species of … Read more

Endangered Alaska Whales Gain Habitat Protection

beluga whale

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) took an important step toward protecting critical habitat under the Endangered Species Act for the Cook Inlet beluga whale in Alaska by proposing to designate more than 3,000 square miles of the threatened whale’s habitat for protection. In October 2008 NMFS listed the Cook Inlet beluga whale as endangered … Read more

Humpback Whale Saves Seal from Orcas!

There are plenty of stories of dolphins saving humans. Authentic tales of dolphins assisting swimmers in distress are numerous. On the opposite side of popular mythology is the killer whale, the largest of all dolphins. Orcas are often erroneously depicted as dangerous to humans. But transient type killer whales do hunt other mammals, if not … Read more

Witness the Spectacular Leonid Meteor Shower on a Baja Kayak Tour!


The Leonids are arriving! Lucky participants of our Baja kayaking tours in mid-November could see a once in a lifetime show. The Leonids are famous for not only spectacular meteor showers but also “meteor storms”. Most meteor showers fluctuate from year to year, but the Leonids are particularly variable. Some years they produce only 5 … Read more

Former Kayak Tour Guide Warns of Garbage Island in the Pacific Ocean

Garbage Island in the Pacific Ocean

An island of floating plastic garbage twice the size of Texas is trapped within the current gyre in the middle of the North Pacific Ocean. The trash originated from countries that ring the Pacific and is continuing to grow in size. The Algalita Marine Research Foundation has been studying the phenomenon for over a decade. … Read more