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Information about Kayaking and Orcas

Orca whales (killer whales) are found in every ocean around the world and there are a variety of places to kayak with killer whales. Orca kayaking is as thrilling as it sounds and is best to do with an experienced naturalist guide. One of the best places in the world to kayak with orca whales in the same proximity while following federal, state and local whale watching guidelines, is from San Juan Island in Washington State just north of Seattle.

So why is San Juan Island such a great place to go killer whale kayaking? Because the resident orca J, K and L pods come to this area every year May through September to feed and mate in the deep nutrient rich waters surrounding the island where Chinook salmon and other salmon run. King/Chinook salmon is the primary diet for the resident orcas. As the salmon make their way to their spawning habitat, the orcas feed. These orcas prefer Chinook salmon as their primary diet over other salmon species due the large size of the Chinook; they are nearly twice the size of other salmon species. Once an orca catches a salmon, they take it to their family members to share therefore, Chinook salmon give them more for their effort.

San Juan Island sea kayaking presents a unique opportunity to see killer whales in their natural habitat as well as many other marine animals. However, kayaking with orcas is never guaranteed since the orcas are not on a particular schedule on any given day. The best chance of kayaking with orca whales in the San Juan Islands is during the summer months; June, July and August.

It is recommended to kayak with a guided tour because of the strong currents and tidal exchanges that occur in the San Juan Islands. Also, while you kayak with orcas, whales can suddenly show up and an experienced and trained guide will know how to appropriately behave, obey the laws and respect these magnificent creatures. Guided kayaking tours in the San Juan Islands offer safe, educational and fun experiences while following the Be Whale Wise Guidelines and the local, state and federal laws.