Beauty after the storm!!!

Port Angeles

Highlights:
Lots of Seabirds all day
Occasional harbor porpoise
Flat calm water
Sunny skies
Resident orcas south of the ODAS buoy
Humpback east of Race rocks
Lots of Steller and California sea lions at Race rocks

Naturalist Log:

With a huge storm having just blown through on the evening of the 29th it was unclear what may still be moving around in the Salish sea. Winds had exceeded 30mph at times and the Salosh sea was not a place to be however as the sun rose on Port Angeles a calm drifted in from the east. Blue skies sat above as much of the rain from the night before had made its way further east. A light breeze danced through the air and by 9 am the temp store had already begun to sky rocket once again. It was quickly becoming a beautiful day, and a great day to be on the water.

As with most days we never know what to expect weather or wildlife wise but today as the Island Explorer 4 made its way out into the Salish sea, we could tell that Mother Nature was on our side. The waters lay still like glass and the sun beat down heavily burning up the little marine layer of fog that had come in with the morning. The IE4 headed out north from Ediz hook and began her search amongst the shallows in places like the rock pile and Coyote bank. Passing over the rock pile there were no whales sighted but the occasional harbor porpoise would surface giving the boat some great looks!!!

With that the IE4 continued north toward reports of orcas near the ODAS buoy. In no time whale watching boats were in view and soon the IE4 was on scene with 3 very large groups of southern resident orca whales!!!! It was members of both J and Lpod and they were very excited to see us. The activity immediately picked up as tails slapped at the surface and multiple spy hops were seen. Soon the whales were breaching out of the water and all around having a great time. It was a perfect show and the whales were giving us very close looks. The IE4 even got a chance to lower the hydrophone into the water and listen to some chatty orcas. It was an amazing show and there were so many orcas grouped up close together it was hard to get any I.D’s however it was clearly members of both J and L pod. Soon it was time to move on and so the IE4 ventured further west.

With Race rocks at her bow the IE4 searched hard for humpbacks and any other whales she might come across. Suddenly a sharp eyed passenger spotted a humpback way out in the distance and so the IE4 swung south to see who the whales was. As the IE4 got on scene the whale gave an awesome tail throw not far from the starboard side of the boat!!! The whale gave us many good close looks as it swam in toward the boat multiple times. It was a great show but it also came to an end and so the IE4 moved on to Race rocks.

Reaching race rocks the IE4 began spotting dozens of Steller and California sea lions hauled out of the water. Getting some great views at these animals and even getting some good whiffs of the local Race rocks air was more than enough to make folks smile and with that we headed back toward Port Angeles. It was a perfect day on the water only made better with the different whales we got to visit with today!!!!

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