A fine day to be at sea

Port Angeles

Highlights:
3 humpbacks right off  Ediz hook
Harbor porpoise and hybrid porpoise
Harbor seals
Steller sea lions
Resident orcas at Hien bank
Beautiful weather
Flat calm water

Naturalist log:
The day started off with a beautiful sunrise, the smoke from the previous day had moved off to the east and the sun was shining bright. The air was warm as a light breeze danced through the trees and birds sang out as the world began to awaken. The crew of the Island Explorer 4 was busy fueling and cleaning the boat for the trip. In no time at all they had the IE4 back on the dock and were bringing passengers onboard. With everyone on board and the manifest checked off the IE4 peeled off the dock and ventured into the Salish sea.

The harbor was empty as the IE4 made her way out in the morning, a few seabirds swam at the surface in search of breakfast and the seas lay calm like glass. The IE4 rounded Ediz hook and picked up speed in a northwest direction. Not far from the hook captain Tom spotted the first whales of the day, they were humpback whales!!!! The IE4 quickly made its way over to the two whales and began her viewing experience. Suddenly a third whale appeared just off her bow and showed its tail flukes!!!! What an amazing look we had, so good we were able to ID whale as MMZ0004. After many looks at the whales they began to separate and it was time to turn and see what else was out her today.

The IE4 turned northeast this time to head toward reports of animals south of San Juan island. Suddenly harbor porpoise and hybrid porpoise began to pop up all over. Giving only quick looks and disappearing just as quickly as they appeared. Then out of nowhere a Steller sea lion appeared, swimming east, breathing hard and looking for food and breathing hard. The IE4 enjoyed some amazing looks at this guy and continued onward toward the San Juans. At this point reports had come in and success lay just ahead.

The IE4 started spotting wildlife just north of Hien bank. Multiple dorsal fins were appearing at the surface and slowly moving west toward Haro strait. The IE4 wasn’t gonna miss her opportunity for orcas so she quickly joined the show. The first whale to show up was J34 Doublestuff. He was alone and fishing in a current line on the north end of the bank. The IE4 followed him for a while getting some very close looks as J34 continuously turned in toward the boat. After many great looks the IE4 then joined up with another whale that was all alone. This time it turned out to be L25 Oceansun!!! She swam a little ways ahead of J34 and was fishing in the same current lines. As the IE4 watched she began to copy Doublestuff by constantly coming in for close passed at one point she even rolled over on her side and waved at the boat!!! It was so great to see these animals and even better having them to ourselves.

Time ran low and it was again time to return home. The IE4 waved goodbye to the orcas and headed south. Passing hundreds of porpoise and the occasional harbor seal. Suddenly in the distance a large exhalation was seen and the IE4 was soon on scene with another humpback and some more Steller sea lions!!!! It was awesome and the IE4 got some amazing close looks off her port side as the humpback surfaced not far off. Then out of nowhere two more humpbacks suddenly surfaced giving the whole boat a shock!!! After many great looks the IE4 again had to return home but she did so under blue skies and upon calm seas. It truly was a perfect day to be out in the Salish sea!!!!

T.R.

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