Triple Whale Day! Humpbacks, Orcas and a Minke

Port Angeles.

Highlights:
*At least 4 Humpback Whales spotted at the rock pile area as we made began our wildlife adventure. A couple of the whales were identified as BCX1068 “Split Fluke” & BCX1057
*Resident Orcas seen near Eagle point off of San Juan Island. Some Orcas identified included J27 “Blackberry”, J17 “Princess Angeline”, J28 “Polaris” and J46 “Star”.
*Minke Whale was spotted just west of the ODAS bouy.
*Huge pod of Harbor Porpoise seen swimming as we passed along Coyote Bank, aka Border Bank.
*Neat view of a Naval ship as we passed it by.
*More Humpbacks during our return to Port Angeles.

Naturalist Log:
An AMAZING day out on the water! The sunshine kept us warm as the calm flat seas allowed everything to be easily spotted. Immediately after passing Ediz Hook and entering the open waters, jumping Salmon and a few Harbor Porpoise were spotted. It didn’t take long before our first large whales were spotted. Humpback whales were surfacing and exhalations were noticed in a few different directions. At least 4 Humpback Whales were counted in the area. A pair of whales caught our attention so we headed towards them. The two whales were BCX1068 “Split Fluke” and BCX1057 swimming side by side. With Mt. Baker clearly visible in the background of the traveling whales, our views were picturesque. As we enjoyed our great looks at the traveling duo,  Captain Scott got a report about Orcas off of San Juan Island. So, we said our goodbyes to the Humpbacks and made our way across the Juan de Fuca Strait. As we approached, just West of Salmon bank, dorsal fins came into view. The first fin to catch our attention was the tall dorsal of J27″Blackberry”. Spread out along the island were many other Orcas, including J17″Princess Angeline”, J28″Polaris”, and J46″Star”. As we watched with wonder, some sharp eyes noticed a small Orca closer to the shore, could it be one of the new calfs? Suddenly, Captain Scott put the engines into neutral as two orcas popped up right next to the boat. It was amazing, the Orcas passed right in front of us! What a treat. We continued watching the Orcas and even enjoyed some Spy Hops and Fluke Slaps. We were about to say our goodbyes when J27″Blackberry” got our attention again. He was rolling to his side and bringing up his pectoral flipper and slapping it against the water’s surface. Maybe he wanted to get a chance to wave goodbye to us 🙂 It was a great way to say goodbye to the Orcas, though we continued to keep our eyes on them as we turned and started making our way towards Port Angeles. We weren’t far along in out return direction when a third type of whale showed itself. It was a Minke Whale, just west of the NOAA’s ODAS bouy. Amazing! We got a few good looks at the whale before it demonstrated how it earned its nickname and became a “Slinky Minke”. We continued on. As we passed over Coyote Bank, also known as Border Bank, passengers started to notice many Harbor Porpoise. It was a Huge pod! We just kept seeing more and more of the small bodies and triangle dorsal fins break the surface of the water. There was so many! Eventually we reached the end of that amazing pod, and got treated to another awesome view. We passed by a Naval Ship, come enough to see some great details to the vessel. After passing the naval ship, we were back around the area known as the Rock Pile. More Humpback Whale exhalations were seen. Suddenly, a tail caused a huge splash. It was a Humpback Whale doing what is known as a Peduncle Throw. We enjoyed a few more looks at the huge humpback whales and then returned to Port Angeles. What an amazing Triple Whale Day!
~Tamara
*Photo Credits to Lee Leddy*

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