Triple Whale Day in P.A.

Port Angeles.

Highlights:
*Harbor Seals poking their heads above the water as soon as we exited the marina.
*Shortly after passing the Ediz Hook, a Steller Seal Lion was spotted, hanging out on the surface.
*SouthEast of Middle Bank, a Minke whale with a tall sickle shape dorsal fin appeared and showed itself several times.
*Resident Orcas on the west side of San Juan Island. It was some K-pod members and J-pod members traveling along the shoreline.
*A Humpback Whale, BCX1057, showed of its flukes along the Rock Pile area.

**Photo Credit to Lee Leddy**

Naturalist Log:
The morning fog cleared well before we set off for our adventure, making for a beautiful, clear morning. The wildlife viewing began immediately as Harbor Seals were spotted lifting their round heads out of the water, including an adorable pup swimming along the backside of its mama.

As we passed the tip of Ediz Hook, we were officially out on open waters. The seas were amazingly calm today, allowing us to see everything that came up to the surface. Including a large Steller Sea Lion. The sea lion was just hanging out on the surface, occasionally bringing up its bear like face to check us out. It also brought up its large pectoral flippers, doing a very good shark impression. We got several great looks at the sea lion before it dove under the water.

We continued our search as we crossed the Juan de Fuca Striat. Several Harbor Porpoise were seen breaking the water surface with their triangle dorsal fin. Salmon were also spotted jumping high out of the water. Suddenly, just as we were approaching the Middle Bank area, a dark body was seen. It was a Minke Whale!  The Minke Whale zigged and zagged a little bit, but stayed close enough for everyone to get a nice look at its sickle shaped dorsal fin. After several surfaces, the whale arched its back telling us it was time for its deep dive, so we said goodbye to the Minke Whale and continued on our way.

We journey took us into Haro Striat. As we approached the west side of San Juan Island, dorsal fins were spotted near the shoreline. The fins belonged to members of the Southern Resident Orcas. Our first close look was a nice big male with a tall dorsal fin. It was K21″Cappuccino”. He showed off his tall dorsal and distinct saddle patch. It appeared like K21″Cappuccino” was heading towards a little pod of Orcas that were located ahead of him, so we went to investigate. Turns out, the Orcas ahead of him were family members of K12″Sequim”. The pod was hanging out close to one another, swimming along the shoreline. Suddenly, an Orca appeared on the left side of the boat and it was picking up speed, showing a lot of its body as it swam towards K12″Sequim”. It was Sequim’s sprouting son K37″Rainshadow” and he seemed like he was in a hurry to catch up with his mom. Another big male popped up close by, it was K25″Scoter” showing off his fat dorsal fin. We let the K12 family group to continue on their way and turned towards another pod of orcas. It was a large pod and they were all swimming closely together. Perhaps they were resting. The large pod were J-Pod Orcas including members J22″Oreo”, J34″Double Stuff”, J38″Cookie” and J17″Princess Angeline”‘s family group. A few time the orcas in the large resting pod all came up together giving us all an impressive sight at the multiple dorsal fins. Time eventually came for us to say goodbye to the J-Pod Orcas and begin our crossing of the Juan de Fuca Strait.

The ride back towards Port Angeles remained just as calm and beautiful as the right out. However, the wildlife viewing was not over yet. As we passed along the area known as Rock Pile, a large exhalation was spotted in the distance. It was a Humpback Whale! The Humpback Whale surfaced multiple times before bringing up her tail to reveal her identity. It was BCX1057. With the wave of the tail, we said our goodbyes and headed back to Port Angeles, spotting Harbor Porpoise all along the way.

We could not have asked for a better day than today – 3 kinds of Whales and a beautiful ocean.
~Tamara

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