Orcas on Both Trips, and 7 Puffins in the Afternoon!

Anacortes

9:00am trip highlights:
*J & K pod orcas plus L87, one spyhop and a breach
*Harbor seals and harbor porpoise
*Bald eagle, common murres, rhinoceros auklets, pigeon guillemots, and all 3 cormorant species

Our first stop for wildlife today was at Bird Rocks where we spotted several harbor seals, and all three species of cormorants.  We got an even better look at some harbor seals at Colville Island a few minutes later.  Eventually our route took us all the way into Canada, just across the border, to find resident orcas swimming in from the west!  We started with a group that was all together in a tight sleeping formation.  It was a mix of J and K pod orcas, plus L87, Onyx.  J2, Granny was in the lead and J22, Oreo, J34, DoubleStuf, and J38, Cookie, and Onyx were not too far behind.  After lots of great views of them coming up and going down together one of the whales in the lead did a big spyhop, and that was quickly followed up with another whale breaching!  I guess it was finally time to wake up now!  After we watched them race around in all directions for a while we decided to peel off and check out another sub pod of orcas swimming to the east.  It was the J16 subpod, including J16, Slick, J26, Mike, J36, Alki, J42, Echo, and the new calves J50 and J52!  Alki and her new son J52 swam together and gave us some great baby time at close range toward the end of our visit, making for a perfect finale!  Awesome trip!  Naturalist Bart Rulon

3:30pm trip highlights
*J pod orcas searching for fish near False Bay
*Harbor seals and harbor porpoise
*7 Tufted puffins at Iceberg Point
*Common murres, rhinoceros auklets, pigeon guillemots, and all 3 cormorant species

We headed south again for our second trip today and got a big surprise by finding 7 tufted puffins hanging out together at Iceberg Point to start things off!  That is probably the most puffins we have ever seen at that particular spot before!  We headed west from there and were on scene with orcas within 30 minutes.  We spotted J16, Slick, first and she swam right over toward us to give everyone a great view.  After that we spotted J42, Echo, who was babysitting her younger sister, J50.  These two sisters entertained us for quite a while as they rolled around and played together!   Echo spent some time lifting J50 out of the water with her head before the new calf swam out ahead and joined back up with her mom, Slick.  Next we peeled off to look for more orcas, and we eventually spotted J38, Cookie.  This 12 year old male was zig-zagging back and forth the whole time we watched him.  Then we spotted his older brother, J34, DoubleStuf.  He gave us some of the best views of the day as he swam close to us in a very consistent line before we eventually said goodbye!  Next we headed over toward Whale Rocks and spotted three Steller sea lions.  One was perched proudly on the rocks and one of the others swam over to haul out and join him.  They growled at each other for quite a while as we pulled away.  On the way back toward the dock we spotted 4 of the tufted puffins again at Iceberg Point, and we got a very scenic view of the Washington state ferries coming and going with the setting sun right behind them.  Naturalist Bart Rulon

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