Our naturalist, Clare, from the IE5 captured this shot of the IE4 in Deception Pass last night. The afternoon whale watch from Anacortes is sold out today, but you can still get on the water for a scenic 2.5-hour wildlife cruise for just $29 plus taxes and fees! Tours depart at 6:00 PM from downtown La Conner. To learn more or to make your reservation, visit http://ift.tt/2oJDVLd #goskagit, #lovelaconner, #islandadventures

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A Crazy, Hazy Day – Humpbacks, Transients, and a GRAY WHALE!


Port Angeles


9:30 AM

INCREDIBLE MORNING ON THE WATER! Before the tour even began, we spotted a raccoon under the dock and a great blue Herron catching fish! Then with early reports of our resident killer whales heading west, we put the pedal to the metal and cruised toward their location so we could catch them before they were out of range. Across the flat calm strait we had many sightings of harbor porpoise in feeding mode! When we arrived near beachy head, we were treated to a large group of Lpod spread out into several smaller groups. The group included L72, 91, 92, 55, 105, and 5-10 others! We got lots of close passes and fantastic looks! We then turned east to head to race rocks when we were interrupted by a lone GRAY WHALE who was sleepily headed west. What a treat to see a gray whale so out of season! Next we went through race rocks where we saw many stellar sea lions, harbor seals, a mature bald eagle, and a big elephant seal amongst the sea lions! What a beautiful morning!!! 

3:00 PM

Started the trip with glassy seas! After hearing reports of humpbacks across the strait at Constance bank, we headed north while catching great looks of harbor porpoise along the way! When we arrived, it appeared to be a mother and calf who were split up about a quarter mile apart. We got really nice fluke shots of the larger whale but we’re unable to identify the individual. Then out of the blue, the large whale gave a massive full body breach!!! It was amazing! We soon headed west to do some exploring. We went through race rocks where we encountered lots of dueling stellar sea lions, and many harbor seals! We then continued west where we found two humpbacks initially traveling together, but soon splitting off and heading different directions. We followed one east and got great tail shots before turning and heading back to the dock! 






La Conner

It was a hazy and calm day.  We headed south downthe channel. Saw a couple of great blue herons, several Caspian terns, a dozen black oystercatchers, and a couple of bald eagles as we cruised through the channel. Harbor seals hauled out on Strawberry Island. Under the bridge, out toward the strait. Several harbor porpoise throughout our trip. Skirted San Juan Island and headed into Canada to find a humpback whale! He surfaced a couple of times at pretty close range, surprising us all! Some nice looks before we headed into Lopez for lunch. Then we headed south down San Juan Channel for Cattle Pass and back out toward the strait. Continued on our search under the bridge. Found several more bald eagles and gbhs on our trip back through the channel to la Conner.

Anacortes

10:00 AM
Our morning tour enjoyed very calm conditions with just a bit of haze hanging in the air.  We took the scenic inner island route from Anacortes to Haro Strait, going through Pole Pass, a great shortcut to get to Haro Strait.  It was there, between Henry Island and Sidney Island that we encountered a new-to-us humpback whale!  This juvenile had a distinct injury on the left side of his/her fluke that can be used to identify the individual.  We had a few close surfacing and even got to see a “cartwheel” where the whales tail was thrown out of the water with a big splash.  Photos have been sent to a few research organizations, but this may be a new visitor to the Salish Sea!  On the way home we cruised by the north end of Spieden Island where we saw several bald eagles and a few harbor seals as well.  We took Wasp Pass coming home and enjoyed looking at the beautiful homes along the water.  It was a really nice afternoon!


3:30 PM

For our second tour of the day, we took a similar route through Pole Pass.  There were several boats looking for our humpback friend from the morning, but everyone had come up short.  After an extensive search pattern, the Island Explorer 5 earned some major bragging rights by relocating this young humpback near Saltspring Island!  The evening light through the haze was spectacular, creating a shimmery orange glow on the water, AND our humpback whale!  The whale seemed to have grown comfortable with us by the afternoon, coming up regularly quite close to our vessel.  As a finale, we were all treated to a  BREACH in the orange sunlight – fantastic!  On the way home, it was cool enough for the Spieden animals to come out to graze.  We spotted mouflon sheep, sika deer, and fallow deer feeding on the hillside as well as several bald eagle.  So much fun!  








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Curious what we see on our new 2.5-hour La Conner wildlife cruises? All of these great photos were taken aboard the Island Explorer 4 during our evening Deception Pass tours. The forecast is calling for a HEAT WAVE all week, so come cool off on the water for just $29 per person plus taxes and fees! Tours depart at 6:00 PM from the La Conner waterfront. For more information, or to make a reservation, visit http://ift.tt/2oJDVLd

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Humpbacks Galore from Port Angeles, Transients and a Humpback from Anacortes

Port Angeles

AM Tour:

Absolutely flat calm waters greeted us this morning making anything in the water easy to spot. Many harbor porpoise were seen on and off throughout our trip. The olympics had a good amount of cloud cover but some of the snow capped peaks   managed to shine through occasionally. Our first whale came as a pair of humpbacks feeding deep then resting at the surface   in between. They were whales we knew as BCY0523 and BCX1251 Orion. A little farther away we encountered another humpback also feeding and this one we didn’t recognize. After enjoying their company we continued our search and headed for Race Rocks.While there we found a myriad of pinnipeds from harbor seals and Stellar sea lions  to even 2 elephant seals. Ollie the sea otter even made an appearance. Birds were in abundance including 2 bald eagles, pigeon guillemots , cormorants, and black oyster catchers. As our time grew short we headed south ever vigilant for any more wildlife   that might appear. What a great morning out in the straits of Juan de Fuca.

PM Tour:

As we prepared to leave for our afternoon trip we couldn’t help but be excited as the water was glassy flat. It wasn’t long into our trip when the first harbor porpoise made an appearance. We traveled west  and found BCY0523 and BCX1251 Orion still hanging out together feeding and showing off their flukes. As we watched we noticed more humpback whales in the distance and we eventually went to check some more out. One of the whales turned out to be BCY0324 Big Mama. It was  amazing to see all the exhalations  in the distance. Being close to race rocks we took a little break to scope out the action there and found harbor seals  with a mom and pup nursing also. Steeler sea lions were abundant as were the seabirds along with one bald eagle. We continued our search and it took us to the far west with reports of lots of humpbacks . As we watched exhalations all around us we had one whale throw a cartwheel and then another breached in the distance. Naturally we headed over to the breaching whale to find out it was none other than BCX1068 Split Fluke and her new 2017 calf who was doing all the breaching while mom ate. We stayed as long as we could watching breach after breach until mom actually came and collected the calf  after eating her fill and put and end to the playtime. A long trip out west  that was well worth it to see all those humpbacks and great aerial displays.

Anacortes


AM Tour:


As soon as the boat got off the dock we decided we were going to head South in hopes of finding the first whales of the day! We made it by Whidbey Island and then heard reports of some Orcas just a few miles up ahead of us! We arrived on scene and saw that the whales we were with were the same Transients we saw yesterday morning, the T46’s! They were cruising at a steady pace as they went along the shore line. We left these whales as we went a tried to find some more wild life and ended up seeing a few looks at a Minke Whale popping up off the bow of the boat. This whale was pretty shy and didn’t hang around very long, so we decided to go see more of those orcas we had earlier because they were heading North towards the dock! We were with the whales for a little while until we had to start making our way back towards the dock! 




PM Tour:


Headed west through Guemes Channel to Rosario Strait and then southbound in Rosario. Spotted our first whale of the day! A humpback whale who had been pretty erratic before we got there, then began a slowly southbound trek. Fluked a couple of times. Popped up right off the bow, we got to see his blowholes!  Then turned north up Rosario Strait to Bellingham channel. Spotted rhinoceros auklets, common murres, pigeon guillemots and cormorants. Off point Lawrence we caught up with some orcas that were hauling northbound, at 7 knots! It was the T46s (T46, T46D, T46E, T46F and T122). They cruised northbound the entire hour plus we were with them! Saw some pretty lucky harbor porpoise, as the whales cruised by them without even looking twice. Nice looks as they headed toward Canada. A lot of quality time with them before heading home. Stopped by peapod rocks and found several harbor seals both hauled out and in the water, numerous black oystercatchers, and four bald eagles!  Awesome evening on the water!

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