We got a double-header this morning with a humpback whale and a pod of transient orcas! We searched to the south with great water conditions to start things off today. We made our first stop at Colville Island to look at a bunch of harbor seals hauled out on the rocks, and a bald eagle and two turkey vultures perched on the top of the island. Salmon Bank didn’t yield any whales so we aimed toward Hein Bank. It was there that we got a big surprise when a whale came lunging out of the water right out of the blue! At this point we couldn’t tell what species it was yet. It stayed down for quite a while before surfacing again, but when it did we could easily see that it was a humpback whale! This whale gave us plenty of great views and showed his tail flukes at the end of each series of breaths. We called in the rest of the whale watching boats still looking for whales. Shortly after they arrived we got two last looks at the whale and the last pass was the best of the day! The whale surfaced right at our bow and gave everyone fantastic views as he swam off. Just as we turned to head back toward the dock a call came over the radio that a small pod of orcas was spotted swimming north on the west side of San Juan Island! Should we go for it? It would mean getting in late, but heck yeah we are going to go for it…… for our awesome passengers! By the time we finally reached the pod of transient orcas the were in Canada at Sydney Island. We only had about 15 minutes to spend with the T65A pod, but it was well worth it. These killer whales spent a lot more time at the surface than usual making for a great finale to our whale viewing. On our way home we spotted a great pair of bald eagles at Broken Point on Shaw Island. What an awesome trip!
We ended up with another double-header for our afternoon trip – this time with a minke whale and L-pod orcas coming in from the west including the new L-pod calf! Passengers spotted our first whale of the afternoon trip at Salmon Bank when a minke whale came to the surface. The minke whale gave us plenty of great views as he swam along. Knowing we had a bunch of L-pod orcas swimming in from the west we said goodbye to the minke after about 15 minutes. We caught up with L-pod as they were approaching San Juan Island and they went from tightly grouped up to spread out in smaller groups. Early on we spotted L25, Ocean Sun, L55, Nugget, L103, Lapis, L118, Jade swim by. Then L82, Kasatka, and her son L116, Finn swam close to us and Finn decided to entertain us like crazy. He did about 15-20 tail slaps in a row as they swam by, and eventually he breached as they were swimming away! Next we cruised over to check out L77, Matia, with her daughter L119, Joy. They gave us some fantastic views as they swam side by side. Then L85 Mystery gave us the best pass of the day when he swam right for us and then decided to swim right under our boat with the engines turned off. He surfaced on the other side of the boat and gave us a nice lazy tail lob as if to say hi! Everybody loved it! Then as a grand finale Capt Mike knew we would end our day with the newest L-pod calf L121 who was swimming with mom, L94, Calypso, and sisteer L113, Cousteau. It was awesome to see the new L-pod calf for the fist time, and it made for a great ending to our trip! Naturalist Bart Rulon