Whale-A-Palooza!!!!!!!!! Five different types of Whales!!!!!!

Anacortes

Highlights:

-Transient Orcas actively feeding!
-Resident Orcas playing and breaching!
-A humpback Whale and a Minke Whale swimming close to each other!
-Humpbacks lunge-feeding and breaching right next to the boat!
-A Fin Whale to top off an amazing day!!!!!

Story to come tomorrow!
-Michael Colahan

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Transient Orcas and Humpback Whales!

Port Angeles.

Highlights:
*Transient Orcas, T036A family group, seen offshore east of Sooke Inlet.
*T036A family group appeared to have a new addition in the group, T036A3
*Humpback Whale, first spotted while viewing Orcas, seen again on our way towards Race Rocks
*Rocks full of Steller Sea Lions, California Sea Lions and Harbor Seals at Race Rocks Island
*2 more Humpbacks (one identified as BCX1057)seen southeast of Race Rocks, near the border.

Photos credit to Lee Leddy

Naturalist Log:
It was another gorgeous day out on the water, as the sun shined bright. Our wildlife journey took us out towards Sooke on Vancouver Island. Transient Orcas was our reward for our journey across the Juan de Fuca Strait. Family group T036A to be exact. T036A had her 3 children accounted for, including a new addition, T036A3. They were traveling west, showing off their saddle patches. The little one stayed close to its mother, but peeked out often. Such a treat. While viewing the Orcas, another exhalation caught our attention in the distance. Turns out, it was a Humpback Whale traveling East. We continued watching the transient orcas for a little while longer, then we said our goodbyes and turned to check out the Humpback Whale.

Just when we were beginning to think that the Humpback had disappeared, a large exhalation was spotted. We got a few good looks, then decided to go check out Race Rocks Island. As usual, Race Rocks was beaming with wildlife. The rocks were covered with Steller Sea Lions, California Sea Lions, and Harbor Seals. The California Sea Lions were barking so loud, it was difficult to hear the growls of the larger Steller Sea Lions.

After passing through Race Rocks, we began to head towards Port Angeles. However, we did not get far. Large exhalation stopped us in our tracks. It was a Humpback Whale – actually, turned out to be 2 Humpback Whales. One of the whales was being tail shy, so its identity remains anonymous. However, the other whale showed off its flukes and revealed herself to be BCX1057. These two Humpbacks spent a lot of time at the surface, giving us lots of looks. At one point, they turned towards the Island Explorer 4 and dove underneath passing by our bow. As it resurfaced the close view gave us a great perspective of the whales giant size. Before continuing on our way, BCX1057 gave us one more fluke show. It was a great way to say goodbye.
~Tamara

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Transient’s T49A’s Swim right by the boat!

Port Angeles.

Highlights:
*A view of submarine escort vessels at the Coast Guard Station
*Humpback Whales BCZ0298 “Split Fin” & BCX1057 swimming together, west of the Rock Pile.
*Transient Orcas, T49A’s family group, spotted just offshore of Becher Bay.
*Orcas swam passed the back of the boat for a close up inspection and shortly after swam by again along the side of the boat
*Great sightings along the rocks of Race Rocks, Seals and Sea Lions
*Second sightings with Humpback Whales BCZ0298 “Split Fin” and BCX1057, and additional Humpback Whales spotted including BCZ0180 “Monarch”

Photos credit to season pass holder, Lee Leddy

Naturalist Log:
It was a perfect day to be out on the water. The sun shone bright and the waters remained calm. We departed from the marina, taking in the sights of the Ediz Hook. As we reached the Coast Guard Station located at the tip of the Hook, a few new ships caught our eye. They were submarine escort ships. Not a common sight for our journeys, so it was a special sighting – even before we reached open water.

We passed the Hook, and scanned the waters for signs of wildlife. As we cruised across the Juan de Fuca Straits, we were headed Northwest. A few sharp eyed passengers spotted a Sea Lion swimming by in the water – then suddenly 2 large whales came up behind it! It was quite the surprise. The Sea Lion was safe, as the two whales were Humpback Whales, likely enjoying the same fish the sea lion was. The whales kept their deep dives short at about 5 minutes, allowing us to enjoying viewing them several times. They also showed off their tails allowing us to get I.D.s on them. It was BCZ0298 “Split Fin” swimming with BCX1057. While we were enjoying the looks of the two humpback whales, Captain Tom got word of some Orcas further ahead, so we said “See ya later” to the Humpbacks and headed in the direction of the Humpbacks.

We reached the area just offshore of Becher Bay, and all eyes searched on the water for the dorsal fins of the Orcas. We knew we were in the area of where they were last spotted, suddenly a passenger hollered “Over there” and sure enough the tall dark dorsal fin appeared. We made our way over. It was a pod of Transient Orcas! T49A’s family to be exact, which including members T49A, T49A1, T49A3 & T49A4. At one point they turned towards the boat and swam across the stern. Everyone made their way towards the back of the boat for the close up view. It was awesome. They continued swimming and looked like they may have found something tasty as they circled one particular area. After they lost interest in that spot, they continued traveling west. One more time, they turned towards the boat. This time, they swam by the side of the boat, giving us a better perspective of their side. They stayed underwater as they swam by, but they were close enough to the surface that we could see the white patches shining through the water. It was breathe taking. The Orcas continued heading west. We said our goodbyes and made the turn back towards Port Angeles.

On our way, we decided to stop by a favorite wildlife spot – Race Rocks Island. The Lighthouse was gorgeous among the blue sky and the wildlife did not disappoint. Harbor Seals, California Sea Lions and Steller Sea Lions covered the rocks. A Sea Otter was also spotted among the kelp. What a great detour.

Our cruise back towards Port Angeles had us crossing the area where the Humpback Whales were spotted. Lucky for us, they were still in the area. BCZ0298 “Split Fin” and BCX1057  were still swimming side by side, but this time they were not alone. Not far away, two other Humpback Whales were seen. BCZ0180 “Monarch” and unidentified pal were also swimming in the area, suggesting some pretty good fishing. We enjoyed a few more sights and then made our way back to Port Angeles.
~Tamara

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P.A. Triple Header!

Port Angeles

*L-pod killer whales
*A humpback whale
*A minke whale
*All whales were within a mile of each other
*Dall’s porpoise playing with L92

The weather was ideal for our trip from Port Angeles today with sunny skies and calm seas. We headed north toward San Juan Island to start things out and we spotted our first whale just south of Salmon Bank. It was a minke whale and we got a couple of good looks at it before we decided to peel away to check out some killer whales that were hunting for fish about a quarter mile away!

The first Whale we looked at was L92, Crewser. He spent a lot of time at the surface for us before taking a deep dive. Next we spotted another big male and it turned out to be L88, Wavewalker. We spent a lot of time with him as he swam around on either side of our boat looking for fish. Right after he came up from a deep dive he surfaced once and then exploded out of the water in a huge breach! Wow, talk about impressive!  Then after he settled down for a while he did another half breach about 10 minutes later. He was definitely the star of our show today.  Next we spotted yet another big male swimming by himself, and this time it was L95, Nigel. We watched him for a while before it was finally time to work our way back toward the dock.

We might have tried to head back to the dock in Port Angeles, but we didn’t get very far because a big humpback whale fluked right in front of us!  Well, we can’t pass that up!  While we waited for the big whale to come back up again we spotted a small pod of Dall’s porpoise darting toward L92!  Pretty soon the speedy porpoise were swimming circles around Crewser as he lumbered along.  I’ve seen this behavior several times over the years and every time its happened the porpoise have targetted an adult male swimming by himself.  Pretty cool stuff!  In the midst of watching that multi-species action the humpback whale surfaced on the other side of the boat with a resounding trumpet of a blow!  This whale spent some good time at the surface and showed us his tail flukes twice before we turned around and aimed back toward the dock again.  Wouldn’t you know it though, we got stopped again by one more whale!   This time it was Crewser, once again, swimming by to give us a very nice finale!  It was a great triple header day!  Naturalist Bart Rulon

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LPod Orcas and Humpback Whales!

Anacortes

Highlights:
-L94 and her calves, L113 and L121 playing right next to the boat!
-Three Humpback whales!
-Steller sea lions at Whale Rocks!

Our trip from Anacortes today was fantastic, with sun, calm waters,  and great experiences with animals all day long! We saw plenty of harbor porpoise throughout the tour, as well as harbor seals. A mature bald eagle was sitting on a perch at Willow Island, spreading it’s wings to dry them after an apparent dip in the water. We stopped by Whale Rocks and watched as well over fourty Steller sea lions lie hauled out in the sun. Soon enough we were on scene with orcas. We spent most of our time today with a mom and her two calves, including one of the new calves born this year. Mom, L94 Calypso, and her youngest, L121 Windsong, were traveling together, when out of the blue the young one breached several times! Mom followed suit with a half-breach of her own! We were thrilled! Soon, mom started to change behavior and search for food, and Windsong’s older sister L113 Cousteau, joined her younger brother to play around. In an amazing display at the surface Cousteau actually brought a fish up to the top, while the young one chased after the salmon! So cool! We left this group and spent the rest of this encounter with L89 Solstice and his mom L22 Spirit as they also searched for food. Leaving the orcas we found three different humpbacks on the way home! We spent a lot of time with the first one, and realized that this is not a whale that is listed in our identification guide, based upon photos taken while looking at the tail. We had such a great day today with what seemed like non-stop action with wildlife!

-Michael Colahan

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