Sunny skies, calm seas, and a transient orca to boot!!!! What a day it was out on the Salish Sea!!!
The day was already warm and sun sat high in the clouds by the time the crew began to prepare the Island Explorer 4 for her first trip of the year out of Port Angeles. Crew moral was high and the anticipation of what the day had in store was building. In no time at all the boat was prepped and the crew was greeting the days very excited group of explorers. Soon the Island Explorer 4 was sailing out of the boat haven and on to glory. As she made her way out of the busy harbor there were many sights to see. A massive drilling rig waiting for a home, tankers fueling up for their journeys, and dozens of fishermen out enjoying the halibut opener. With the Olympic mountains standing tall behind the IE4 captain Beck rounded the corner of Ediz hook and the journey had officially begun.
It wasn’t long before a call came through the radio, an orca had been spotted north of P.A. and it was headed south, right toward the IE4. As the ship neared Coyote bank a large black dorsal fin began to show up on the horizon, it was just the whale the IE4 had been waiting for. Once on scene the IE4 took in a few good looks until the orca went on a very long deep dive. Minutes passed and the anticipation began to soar as everyone panned 360 degrees in search of the whale. It turned out the whale had pulled a 180 and was headed back north and with a quick shout from the crew the IE4 turned and was back on scene with the whale. Before getting parallel with the whale, however, it pulled another 180 and was again west bound toward Race rocks and this time he was cruising!!! It turned out to be whale T49C, a transient, mammal eating orca, and under his present heading it was obvious he was going to get lunch at Race rocks. The IE4 followed along with him until he aimed more southward at which time, captain Shane took the IE4 west to Race rocks to see what kind of potential lunch may be around for an orca and pay were there options today!!!!
Right away captain Shane spotted a small group of elephant seals hauled out just under the lighthouse!!! They were humongous and made most of the other seals around look quite small. After passing the light house another group of seals were spotted, this time it was a group of Steller sea lions. Most of them were laid out in the sun sleeping, but a few feisty animals were starting to brawl with each other. Just beyond the Stellers was a group of harbor seals warming up in the sunlight and it was then that Megan spotted a California sea lion!!!! It was amazing seeing so many pinnipeds in one area!!!!!
The journey continued west from there out to Beechey head where the boat took a nice swing in toward land for some close views. From there it was south bound again, back to U.S. waters, where for the second time during the trip the IE4 joined up with T49C. After many good looks at him it was time to head east along the coast of the Olympic peninsula and finally back into the harbor. The whole day was amazing with perfect weather and great wildlife!!!!!!