Our adventure began as we headed out of the marina, passed the Ediz Hook and into the open waters of the Juan de Fuca Strait. As we made our way across the Strait, heading towards San Juan Island, all passengers and crew members scanned the surface of the waters for signs of wildlife. The first sighting to catch our attention was actually not a whale, but a person kayaking in the middle of the Strait. We were all happy to see that he was wearing safety gear and appeared to be a capable and strong paddler. We continued on our way. As we reached the Northern end of Hein bank, a tall dark dorsal fin was spotted. It was a Male Transient Orca, who’s identity is still being determined. He seemed to be traveling alone. After spending a good amount of time with the Orca, we decided to head back towards Hein Bank to get a look at a California Sea Lion we thought we saw on a buoy, but we never made it to the Buoy because a Minke Whale lounged up nearby. The Minke whale seemed to be feeding on a bait ball of fish under some seabirds when it was first spotted. We caught glimpses of its dorsal fin and body as it seemed to zig zag all around the waters. The time had come for us to start heading back in the direction of Port Angeles. Luckily, the transient Orca that we had seen earlier was in the direction we needed to go, so passengers were able to enjoy a few more looks at him. We finally said our goodbye’s to the Orca and continued our way towards Port Angeles. Our sister ship, Island Explorer 3 was in the area and informed us about some Humpback Whales close by. So, Captain Carl decided to take a slight detour to check them out – no one seemed to mind. However, before we could make our way to those whales, 2 other Humpback Whales surfaced nearby. It was a Mom and calf swimming together! Luckily for us, they were whales that liked to show their flukes. After seeing the Flukes, it became clear we were looking at Humpback Whale BCY0160, nicknamed Heather. The last time Heather was seen with a calf was 2012, so this was a great treat for all on board. The calf put on quite the show as it rolled over bringing its cute little pectoral fin out of the water. After a nice Fluke showing from Mama Heather, BCY0160, and calf, we said our goodbyes and returned to Port Angeles.
*Special Thanks to Season Pass Holder Lee Leddy for pictures of today’s adventure*
**Stay tuned for updates of more pictures**