Amazing day with JPod Orcas!!!

Anacortes

What a fantastic day we had aboard the Island Explorer 3 with a huge variety of wildlife, sun, calm seas and ORCAS! We left the dock and encountered some fog in Rosario Strait. Approaching Thatcher Pass, we broke out from the pea soup and almost immediately encountered a California sea lion that was a having a meal of spiny dogfish! This animal thrashed about with its meal for about 15 minutes as we watched, consistently bringing to the surface to try and rip it apart. Gulls swooped in to try a catch a morsel as the sea lion guarded its lunch. Moving on we traveled through the San Juan Islands and eventually exited Cattle Pass into the Starit of Juan de Fuca to try and meet up with JPod as they were spotted southbound in this direction. We saw a mature bald eagle near Lopez Island and almost a dozen Steller sea lions hauled out on Whale Rocks. The entire day was filled with wildlife from start to finish! JPod Orcas have not been seen for a few days in the region, so we were thrilled to have a chance to visit them! As we got closer we realized the killer whales were spread out in several different big groups, and Capt. Carl was able to maneuver us into a viewing sequence with all them today! It was so cool, as every group we encountered had some pretty spectacular behaviors that they were displaying. We saw whales breaching in one direction, and some others with tail-lobs in another direction. One of the whales breached right next to us and J27 Blackberry, brought his massive tail out of the water in close view. Another did a huge spy-hop right next to us as well! We moved up tho the front of the line and watched as J2 Granny, the oldest animal at @104 yrs. old was searching for fish with L87 Onyx. Sweet! Some of our favorites moments occurred when we visited the J19 sub-group. J41 Eclipse, and J47 Notch were side-by-side next to little J51, the very young calf of Eclipse. Notch did a huge tail-lob as well! We last visited with the J16 family, including both of the new calves in that group, J50 and J52. J26 Mike, brought a huge amount of bull kelp out of the water, draped over his dorsal fin as he swam close by. After saying goodbye, we passed by Castle Rock for a nice slow down to take in the beauty of south Lopez Island. Our guests were thrilled, and the crew was stoked as we love every day out here on the water!

-Michael Colahan

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