Humpback and L-Pod Orcas

Port Angeles.

Highlights:
*Harbor Seals hauled out on logs near the marina
*Humpback Whale at the Rock Pile area
*Resident Orcas, L-Pod members, spotted off of Otter Point, along the San Juan Island coastline.
*L110 “Midnight” gave us all exercise following him as he swam all around our boat.
*Large Steller Sea lion spotted taking a quick bite of a Salmon, before disappearing underwater.
*Cool bird sightings included Sabine’s Gulls and White-spotted Scoters.

*Photos credit to Lee Leddy

Naturalist Log:
It was a beautiful day out on the waters of Juan de Fuca Strait today. Our adventure began with Harbor Seals hauled out on the logs near the marine. We slowly passed by making sure everyone got a nice look at the plump bodies of the seals. It even looked like a little one was in the mix – adorable!

As we reached a favorite local spot on the water, both a favorite among fisherman and whales, a large exhalation was spotted of the starboard side. It was a Humpback Whale! As the tail rose out of the water, we recognized the whale as one that had been seen before, but has yet to be added to the Humpback I.D. book. As we enjoyed the view of our Humpback, Captain Scott heard some news on the radio about more animals further north. So, we said goodbye to our humpback whale and headed towards San Juan Island.

We neared Otter Point on San Juan Island and began to spot the signs of Orcas – those large dark dorsal fins rising above the surface of the waters. The Orcas were scattered among the coastline, so we headed to a couple of dorsal fins near by. We saw 2 short dorsal fins. It turned out to be mother and son pair L83 “Moonlight” and L110 “Midnight”. As we got into view of the pair, L110 “Midnight” suddenly breached with a backwards dive, then he headed towards the boat. He seemed to be in a playful mood as he swam all around the boat causing everyone on board to walk a whole lap around the boat with him. He eventually departed us, likely heading back to catch up to his mother “Moonlight”. So, he headed towards a tall dorsal fin that was spotted. It was L84 “Nyssa”. We got a great view of his tall dorsal fin as he swam towards the boat. As he came closer to us, he stayed underwater but close enough to the surface that we could see his white patches as they moved right in front of our bow. It was breath-taking. As he continued moving away from us, we noticed another Male heading our way too. It was L87 “Onyx”. Looks like Onyx took a little away time from Granny to visit with his L-Pod family. We noticed some smaller dorsal fins in the distance and decided to go check them out. As we neared, 3 of the Orcas headed our direction. We watched as they passed by. It was L55 “Nugget”, L27 “Ophelia” and L103 “Lapis”. Suddenly, they stopped their travels and began to make a splashing commotion. Did they find a fish? Sure looks like it, as they swam in tight circles. What Fun! Eventually, it was time to say goodbye to the Orcas and make our turn back towards Port Angeles.

As we made our way across the waters, some birds caught out attention. There was a big splash commotion. Passengers mentioned seeing a sea lion. As we got closer, we could see what the Sea Lion had left behind – a huge Salmon – and the birds were excited to have it. As we traveled further on, we saw another Steller Sea Lion (could this have been the one that left his Salmon behind?) It was fun to see him swim along and as he dove down into the water, we continued on our way towards Port Angeles.
~Tamara

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