So, picture this: five guys (and me) standing on a cliff at Lime Kiln Point State Park overlooking the Haro Straight in the San Juan Islands off Washington Coast.Â Â To our right is a pile of old lime discarded from the Lime Kiln Days.Â Â Below us is a seal skirting around and peeking at us through the kelp.Â Â The restored kiln behind is us.Â Â The dock the men used to load the lime in the 1920â€™s is gone but the pylons in the sea floor stick out enough to remind us of its ghostly existence.Â Â The air is crisp, the sky blue, itâ€™s the perfect day to explore the lands that hold the key to a bit of our pastâ€¦ and then, just as we turn to continue on down the trail, a splash in the distance catches our eyeâ€¦ wait, whatâ€™s that??Â Â It’s an orca!Â Â Lots of orcas!!Â Â Iâ€™ve never had the honor of seeing them in the San Juan Islands.
They werenâ€™t there long â€“ they were moving at a fast clip.Â Â You could tell the male orcas from the rest, their dorsal fins are much bigger than the others, standing stoically to as high as 6 feet.Â Oh, it was so exciting!Â Â Wildlife in nature is just breathtaking. The orca population has been lingering around 85 total orcas in the Puget Sound in the last 10 yearsâ€¦ Seems like such a low number when you hear the probable height of orcas in Puget Sound was 300 in the 1960â€™s. They got a bad rap for being â€œKillerâ€ whales when 1. They arenâ€™t actually whales.Â Â And 2. Only some orcas are actual â€œkillers.â€Â Â These we saw were traveling in a large family â€“ thatâ€™s our first clue that they arenâ€™t Killers.Â Â They were resident orcasâ€¦ they eat fish and travel in familiesâ€¦ the Transient Orcas are the â€œkillers.â€Â Â They travel in 2â€™s and 3â€™s and eat mammalsâ€¦ they hunt.Â Â Â Both would have been fascinating to seeâ€¦ but their very presence today completed our experienceâ€¦ I hope the San Juan Islands stay quaint and country cottage-likeâ€¦ but I hope everyone gets this chanceâ€¦ it is a once in a lifetimeâ€¦
Your friendly San Juan Island guide,
Learn more about Blair, visit her guide page: Blair Peck