Today’s wildlife viewing started even before Captain Shane had a chance to formally greet the Island Adventure 4 passengers. Swimming in the harbor, a family of Canadian Geese and many Pigeon Guillemots were spotted. It was a great start to a beautiful day. Once we were all on board and on our way, our passengers didn’t have to wait long for another viewing of marine life. Resting on the buoy just passed the Ediz Hook was an adult male California Sea lion. He lifted his head a couple of times, showing us his sagittal crest then continued to relax in the sunshine. We continued our adventure passed the buoy and into the open waters of the Juan de Fuca Strait. Soon, a Steller sea lion was spotted swimming in the waters. The Steller sea lion was spending a few minutes underwater and then surfacing with some splashes. Maybe he was fishing? We continued our way searching the waters for whales. As we approached Hein Bank, Rhinoceros Auklets were everywhere. Some sharp eyed passengers spotted a Pacific Loon. We continued traveling through Hein bank, seeing Brandt’s Cormorants and Common Murres. Just as we reached the north end of Hein Bank. a dark shape caught the captain’s eyes. Were his eyes playing tricks on him? Did he have too much coffee this morning? We focused our attention in the direction of the dark shape’s last spotting. . . . It was spotted again and then again. It was a tall dorsal fin being spotted from 2 miles away. As we got closer, it became clear that there were multiple dorsal fins: 1 male, 2 females, a “sprouter” (a.k.a. teenager) male, a juvenile and a calf. During our viewing time, senior deckhand Tyson got a good look at the saddle patch of the male Orca and was able to identify him as T051. This transient orca tends to be a lone traveler, so it was a special treat seeing him swimming with others. Stay tuned for updates as we use photos of the other Orca’s saddle patches to determine their identities.
The young calf of this pod was particularly energetic and playful. It was seen spy hopping, fluke slapping, porpoising, and rolling around. I am sure these behaviors allowed many passengers to capture great pictures for our photo contest on our Flicker page.
– Naturalist Tamara