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Voices Of The Islands Captain Dan

"I love watching people react to whales. Everyone's breath just stops. Seeing them in the wild—there's nothing like it."

"Whales are special," says Captain Dan, who has been leading whale and wildlife watching tours for more than 30 years, and it never gets old. "Once you leave the shore, it's just a whole new world!"

The San Juan Islands are one of the best places to see orca whales in the wild. "I love taking people out on the water," he says. "It is an unbelievable sight to see them jumping out of the water."

Out on the water, Captain Dan has seen it all—the 6-foot-tall dorsal fin of a male orca whale cruising through a kelp bed hunting salmon, a group of transient orcas hunting a seal, a grandmother, mother and baby orca swimming together. All of these scenes are happening in a world of wonder just off our shores. 

"Every day is just different and new," says Captain Dan. He has seen not just orca whales, but other species that frequent these waters, such as gray, minke, and humpback whales. Not to mention seals, porpoises, sea lions, otters, bald eagles, and numerous seabirds. And like other captains, naturalists and marine biologists, he can identify individual orcas by their very specific markings, which also helps him determine which pod, or family unit, they belong to, and track the whales as they move through the area.

"There's nothing like it. It just doesn't get any better than that."

Follow the Whale Trail
Where to Find Wildlife in the Winter
Responsible Wildlife Watching in the San Juans
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