After an amazing day with Jpod and a beautiful ride home, two more orcas decided to appear!!!!
As the sun rose today over the Salish sea it cast its rays down upon thick layers of marine fog which encompassed much of the sea between the Olympic peninsula and Vancouver island. By 8 am temperatures had already climbed to 55 degrees and were still rising, however, the fog still lay steadily across the Straights of Jaun de Fuca, with no signs of clearing. At 9:30 as if by miracle the fog began to burn, and as quickly as it had set up the straights it retreated far to the west, to linger upon the horizon.
At 10:30 the Island Explorer 4 left the dock and plunged forth into the unknown and ever changing world of the Salish seas. As she left the marina a great blue heron flew across her bow landing on some rocks to her port side, it was then a sharp eyed passenger spotted the first marine life of the trip. A large group of harbor seals had hauled themselves out onto many logs that were left along the shores after the last logging vessel left the port. Some were dry and fluffy while others had recently just discovered this ideal napping location and were still wet with a sheen from the water that lay upon their thick fur. With this the IE4 continued onward confident the day would only get better.
As Captain Carl maneuvered through the now busy harbor, a California sea lion stuck it’s head up briefly, quickly scanning the boat and then moving on without hesitation. Large tankers anchored out awaiting their morning ration of fuel and sea birds chirped at the surface as they floated gingerly along. The sun was now high in the air, casting light down upon the multiple peaks of the Olympic mountain range, causing each crevasse and point to be more vivid than most days. To the north, Mount Baker stood high into the blue backdrop around it, with low lying clouds caressing its base.
Soon the IE4 was clear of the harbor and headed north with speed. As the Olympics began to shrink in the distance, Mount Rainier apeared, clear as it’s ever been, rising high in the south. It seemed as though Baker would not be the only spectacular mountain that wanted to be seen today. The peaks and sculpted snowy caps of both mountains were brightly lit as the perfect day continued to develop and the sun spread its warmth upon the sea.
After passing many current lines and boat wakes left by tankers headed to the east Captain Carl turned the IE4 toward San Jaun island and the shallow banks that lay around her southern end. Upon nearing Middle bank many other whale watching boats began to come into view and it was apparent that animals lay ahead, awaiting the arrival of the IE4 of course. With the sun to her back the IE4 steamed ahead to join the show and take in the beauty of whatever whales lay ahead.
It turned out to be a very tightly grouped Jpod, and not just one sub pod but the whole family. Dorsal fin after dorsal fin rose out of the water, only feet from one another. The tight grouping was a good sign that it was nap time, but the guests and crew of the IE4 had hopes for more, and more they got!!! Not long after arriving on scene a few of the newborn calves began to get rambunctious. Splashing and rolling through the water and occasionally swimming upside down, it was apparent these little whales did not want to sleep!!!!!
Soon mom’s were slapping their tails, or putting their foot down like we humans would say. It was to no avail however as the behavior became slightly contagious. Soon multiple whales were spy hopping and scanning the area to see all the happy faces that came to see them. L87 “Onyx” and a small group of whales even began to move closer toward the IE4. As cheers rang out, the whales continued north, with Mount baker again rising high in the back ground! and orca exhalations drifting slowly away upon the surface it was truly a great day to be on the water.
Finally the time came to say goodbye and search for more as the boat navigated home. With Port Angeles in sight and warm sunny weather all around Captain Carl spotted an exhalation in the distance. It was unclear right away weather it was an orca or a humpback and so the IE4 decided to investigate. It paid off as it turned out to be two transient orca whales, T049C and T124C!!!! These two large males were traveling side by side, zigging and zagging without a care in the world. After a few very nice looks the IE4 again turned west toward her home port.
It was an amazing day with whales today, the weather was perfect and as always a double header cannot be beat. As the IE4 tied up to the dock energy was still high. The sights of the day still surged in people’s brains and the beautiful weather only seemed to amplify the joy that floated all around!!!!! It was truly an amazing day upon the Salish sea today and what better way to spend it than onboard the IE4!!!!!