K pod Orcas first then the T36 transient pod steals the show. Harbor seals, harbor porpoise, rhinoceros auklets, cormorants, and a variety of gulls.
We headed south to start our trip today and we stopped at Colville Island to check out lots of harbor seals hauled out on the rocks. After leaving them it wasn’t long before we spotted our first whales of the day near Eagle Point. It was K-pod, and the first orca we saw was K25, Scoter. He swam by and gave us some great views before we headed west to check out K26, Lobo traveling with his mom, K14, Lea. Lobo swam right over toward us and gave us a fantastic pass on our starboard side! Next we pushed offshore and visited Scoter again, but this time he was with other family members K13, Skagit, K27, Deadhead, and K44 Ripple. Ripple was trying to play while everyone else was trying to fish. He did two spyhops for us!! All the whales were spread out at this point and doing some serious fishing while we watched. At the same time our sister ship, the Island Explorer 4, was on scene with a pod of transient orcas off Whidbey Island so Capt. Mike decided that we would say goodbye to the residents and head south to check out some transient orcas. When we arrived the orcas were nearing Smith Island and they were split up into two groups. It was the T36 pod. Shortly after we started to watch them all the orcas started to swim back toward each other. I definitely saw T36, T36B, T36B1, T36A1, and T36A2. T36A was probably out there too, but I didn’t get a photo of her. There was also a very young calf (less than a year old) traveling very close to T36A1 during our entire visit with this pod. I will check with the Center for Whale Research to see if we can get a positive ID on the calf since it is not in our transient ID guide. At one point the orcas started to circle around and we shut the engines off. After circling they swam right for our bow and gave us the most exciting views of the day! It was awesome! Next we let them pass by and then we started to parallel view them. They were really grouped up tightly at this point! We got lots of great views of T36A1 swimming with the young calf by her side the whole time! What an awesome day. Naturalist Bart Rulon