Orcas, Orcas, Everywhere!!!

Anacortes

Highlights:
Harbor seals at Colville island
Resident orcas at Salmon bank passing close to the boat
Bald eagle on Castle rock
More resident orcas in Rosario strait near Blakely island

Naturalist log

It was a hot day, as the crew prepared the boat for her journey into the Salish sea, one of the hottest days so far this season. By the time the crew was ready to greet the guests temperatures had risen well into the upper 70’s, mind you it is only 9 am at this point. The sun was definitely showing no mercy today as the sky sat void of any clouds, it truly was turning into a scorcher and a perfect day to be out on the water. As the boat left Cap Sante marina the breeze began to kick in a cool the boat and all who had stepped aboard her decks for the fun filled journey ahead. It wasn’t long before the Island Explorer 3 found herself in Rosario strait head south toward the Olympic mountain range which was showing itself nicely in the sunny weather. Mount Baker and even Mount Rainer were showing today, both better than they have in weeks!!!!

As the IE3 reached the lower end of Lopez island it was time for a little slow up and to enjoy the local wildlife. The IE3 rounded the south end of Colville island where it spotted a large group of harbor seals hauled out on rocks near the waters edge. Soon harbor seal pups began to pop their little heads up and look around, unsure of what to think about the IE3 and her passengers. After the cuteness had really set in it was time to venture further west and see what else lay ahead in the Salish sea for the IE3. As the IE3 passed Iceberg point Captain Carl spotted our first whale of the day. It was a minke whale, one that was being very cooperative and showing itself quite a bit. With one last dive the minke dove deep and it was now time to press on and see what else may be out feeding on this gorgeous day.

The IE3 was just south of Salmon bank off the South end of San Juan island when Captain Carl first spotted the orca whales. They were northbound toward the island and occasionally stopping to fish and frolic in the beautiful weather that lay above the surface of the water. As more boats came to join the IE3 headed further off shower to join with yet another group of resident orcas!!! This time it was members of Jpod and they were also headed north to fish. This group became entranced by the IE3 as whale after whale swam right passed the IE3. They definitely had no cares that we were around today and some of the whales even began to get a little playful. They would spy hop and slap tails and swim all about causing quite the commotion at the surface. sadly like all amazing shows this year this one to had to come to an end and so the IE3 departed scene and headed east bound.

Before leaving the area though the IE3 headed north to Whale rocks where it spotted many Stellar sea lions and even a small minke whale swimming around the rocks!!!! the looks were great and with that the IE3 headed onward. Upon reaching Castle rock the IE3 turned in and took a nice slow down between Lopez island and Castle rock. As she went along captain Carl spotted a bald eagle perched high on Castle rock waiting for a fish to swim by and become an easy meal. After reaching the exiting from there the IE3 headed north scanning the eastern shore of Lopez island. As it did it found nothing, just large groups of seagulls awaiting a free meal. With this the IE3 continued slowly up toward Blakely island toward more animals ahead.

This time it was more J and Kpod whales, frolicking as the other group was but headed slowly south toward the Straits of Juan de Fuca. The IE3 got many amazing looks at these creatures as it was able to hang out for some time. Soon even the second show began to grow to short and once again it was time to head east and home. Both shows however were packed with close passes from the orcas and some amazing looks at these beautiful animals. It was also and amazing day to be on the water as the cold breeze from earlier had begun to heat up and you could truly feel summer blowing in from the coast!!!

T.R.

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