Orcas, Humpbacks and an awesome feeding Sea Lion

Port Angeles.

Highlights:
*California Sea Lion on buoy at Ediz Hook tip.
*Steller Sea Lion feeding on a huge Halibut.
*Three Humpback Whales swimming near the Rock Pile area.
*Far North, between Henry Island & Stuart Island, J-Pod resident Orcas were spotted and in a playful mood. One Orca, J27 “Blackberry” came right over and swam under the boat.

*Photo Credit to Lee Leddy* More Photos to come…

Naturalist:
Several sea birds and Pinnipeds were the first to greet us during our wildlife tour. A large male California Sea Lion consumed most of our attention, as it rested on the buoy off the tip of Ediz Hook. As the Sea Lion jumped off and into the water, Harbor Seals caught our attention. They were resting along the shoreline of Ediz Hook. A few of them showed off their belly scooting skills.

We left the Seals and Sea lions at the Hook and headed into the open waters of the Juan de Fuca Strait. As we neared the Rock Pile area, a large exhalation was spotted, then another, and another. 3 Humpback Whales swimming together! They spent a lot of time at the surface then lifted their tails, one after another, as they dove down for their deep dive. We enjoyed great looks at the whales then left them on their way.

As we left the Rock Pile area, searching the waters of Juan de Fuca, wild splashes caught our attention. It was splashing caused by a large Steller Sea Lion. As we watched the Steller Sea Lion, it became obviously that the splashing was due to a meal that the Sea Lion was thrashing around to create bite sized pieces. The meal was a huge Halibut fish. We stayed watching feeding time for a few minutes and then let the Sea Lion finish his meal in peace. It was amazing to watch that action.

Our journey took us completely across the Juan de Fuca Strait and into Haro Strait. We got great looks of Vancouver Island, Discovery Island and San Juan Island as we traveled. With Stuart Island up ahead and Henry Island off to the East, more wildlife was spotted. There were tall dorsal fins spread out ahead. We got on scene and enjoyed the views of the resident Orcas. Several times, we were surrounded by fins. We did our best to not get whale whiplash as we looked out on each side of the boat. In the distance, a little calf was spotted. It was calf J51 swimming alongside mother J41 “Eclipse”. After being spotted, the little calf got into a playful mode. He breached, and fluke slapped. Just then we realized that a large male was headed right towards the boat. It was J27 “Blackberry” and he dove right under our boat popping up on the other side. It was Amazing! After we caught out breath from that close encounter, we noticed more dorsal fins, including another calf, J50! Many more Orcas were spotted in the area and we continued watching them as we moved southward. Ultimately the time came when we had to say goodbye to the Orcas and cross the Strait back to Port Angeles. Another great day out on the water.
~Tamara

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