J, K & L pod Orcas put on a show!

Port Angeles.

Highlights:
*A baby Glaucous-winged Gull hanging out in the marina near its parents.
*Harbor Seals hauled out on some log beams
*Several Orcas all around the boat. Many behaviors seen including breaching, fluke slapping, peduncle throws, and a spy hop. Orca individuals included L92 “Crewser”, K22 “Sekiu”, L110 “Mystery” and many more unidentified.
*Canadian military CH-124 “Sea King” helicopter practicing drills as a swimmer jumped out to retrieve objects.

Naturalist Log:
Our wildlife adventure began as soon as passengers boarded the Island Explorer 4.  While we were still tied to the dock, a baby Glaucous-winged Gull could be seen from the boat near the entrance of the marina. It’s parents was near by doing their parental duties, keeping the adorable bird safe. Shortly after departure, more wildlife was spotted. Many Harbor Seals were hauled out on the log beams as we exited the marina. What a great start to our journey! We continued the journey out into the Juan de Fuca Strait heading North East towards San Juan Island. As we searched the waters for signs of whales, a large plane flew by overhead. It appeared to be a water dumper headed towards Vancouver Island. Perhaps it was heading there to lend support to combat the wildfires that had been reported on the island? If so, YAY! Between Middle Bank and Salmon Bank, the first tall dark dorsals were seen. It was Orcas! It appeared to be members of J, K and L-pod all hanging out together. The Orcas appeared to be in a playful mood as they put on quite the show. We got to see Breaching, Fluke Slapping, Peduncle throws and even a spy hop. At one point, a large male was making sudden turns. We thought maybe it was chasing a fish. Suddenly, we noticed a female near him. Maybe he was chasing the female? With all the breaches and fluke slaps, many of the individual whales seen today will remain anonymous; however we were able to see a few saddle patches to identify. One of the large males was L92 “Crewser”. Other members seen included K22″Seiku” and L110″Mystery”. We got to spend lots of time with the Orcas as they traveled south – the same direction we would need to travel in order to head back to Port Angeles. As we headed south with the Orcas, we came across some Bull Kelp patties floating on the surface. A few of the Kelp patties were investigated by one of the male Orca. Maybe he found something yummy trying to hide among the Kelp blades. As he emerged from under the kelp, he got a few pieces trapped on his dorsal fin. They didn’t stay trapped for long, as he dove down to head towards the next kelp patty. A time came when all the Orcas made a quick turn back North. We said our goodbyes and continued our southern direction towards Port Angeles. Before we made it back to port, a large helicopter cruise by. It was a Canadian military CH-124 “Sea King”. They stopped in an area not too far from us and it appeared like they were running some practices. They lowered objects into the water and a swimmer went in the water after it. That is definitely not something we see everyday.
~Tamara

*Photo Credit to Lee Leddy*

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