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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