Thanks to some sharp-eyed passengers, the Island Explorer 3 finds whales right near home port! We spent the entire day with the T65A’s today, some of my personal favorite killer whales! I’ll have a full report with photos of this amazing trip posted soon!
-Captain and Naturalist Michael Colahan
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Osprey in nest on Jetty island
#44 Dubknuck feeding heavily off Camano island
#723 headed from delta of Snohomish river to Hat island
When we arrived at the boat this morning the skies were dark gray and occasional light rains spotted the area. The seas were flat calm as there was only a light breeze blowing through the area. At about 9 o’clock the rains began to hold off and a few patches of blue skies started to spring up. In no time at all, our guests had arrived and were onboard the Island Explorer 4. With that we released our lines and departed from the dock in search of adventure.
Before heading out toward Hat island, captain Scott took us up toward the Snohomish river delta where we got some great looks at an osprey sitting in its nest on Jetty island. After taking in some great looks captain Scott turned the boat and we began to head out to open water. We rounded the end of Jetty island and headed out toward Hat island.
The search turned up nothing and so we continued north to Saratoga passage. It was here that captain Scott found our first whale. It was #44 Dubknuck and he was quickly moving north. We followed along with him for a little while before he finally started to feed. Rolling on his side and fishing in the shallows just off the west side of Camano island. We got some great looks at his peck fin and side of his tail as he went.
After hanging out with #44 we decided to carry on with the search and see what other whales were around. We headed back south at this point and searched in the delta for other whales and once again captain Scott found us another whale. This time it was Lucy and he was feeding between Hat island and the dekta. Occasionally he would show his tail fkukes and gave us some very close passes. It was a great show and the weather only continued getting nicer.
Definitely a great day on the water!!!!
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Osprey catching a fish off Jetty island
#723 Lucy swimming around the shallows off Hat island
Big spy hop from Lucy
Bald eagle on Camano island
One fluke from Lucy at the end
As our guest began to show up for the afternoons trip so did some nicer weather. The gray overcast skies from the morning had begun to clear off and blue skies were coming in. Once all our guests had arrived we boarded the Island Explorer 4 and departed for our afternoon adventure. Much like we did in the morning we headed up the channel to visit the local osprey nest. This time we were in for a treat however as one of the osprey was out searching for food. It circled around about 50 feet in the air watching down in the channel for fish occasionally making a quick movement as if preparing to dive. We sat and watched for a bit and right as we turned to leave the osprey dove down behind the boat and nailed a fish!!!!
With that we headed back down the channel and out towards the open water. After rounding the end of Jetty island we headed out toward Hat island and it was here captain Scott found us a whale. It was Lucy again and this time he was hungry!!! He was moving back and forth in the shallows off Hat island and occasionally going to the bottom for food. Out of nowhere he did a huge spy hop right off the bow, it was amazing!!! After that he continued doing shallow dives and circling the shallows and so we continued north on a search for more.
We made our way up into Port Susan where captain Scott found us a bald eagle perched high up in a pine tree. After taking in some amazing looks at this majestic bird we continued our search south but the waters around Camano turned out to be empty. We continued south passed Hat island and began to scour the waters to the south. As we did time began to wind down and we wondered if we’d find any other whales. That’s when captain Scott spotted Lucy again back up in the delta. We got back on scene with him and enjoyed some close passes from him as he headed out toward the ferry crossing. At this point we didn’t think we’d see his fluke at all today and right as we prepared to head in Lucy arched his back high into the air and… He brought his tail high into the air giving us the looks we had been searching for that whole trip.
It was a perfect way to end the trip and the blue sunny skies we enjoyed out on the water couldn’t have been nicer!!!!
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Gray whale number 723 shows us plenty of tail flukes bald eagles, harbor seals,
California sea lions, Caspian terns, western grebes, Brant.
We had to travel past Hat Island today to find a whale! The conditions were beautifully
calm, and just as we rounded the north end of a Hat Island I spotted a gray whale
surfacing near Camano Head. It was 723 and he was swimming steadily southward. He gave
us plenty of great views of his tail flukes on every surfacing sequence. After watching
him for a while we peeled off and headed over to Camano Head to check out two bald
eagles. Next we aimed back toward the east and eventually Captain Carl found number 723
again. This time he swam right through a huge flock of western grebes that were also
getting dive bombed by a few Caspian terns trying to catch some fish! On our way back to
the dock we spotted some California sea lions and a couple more bald eagles! What a great
day! Naturalist Bart Rulon
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Great trip today as we cruised through some amazing places in the San Juan Islands, and were rewarded with looks at orcas right near our home port! We saw a huge number of birds on our tour including pigeon guillemots, rhinoceros auklets, common murres, cormorants, bald eagles, turkey vultures, harlequin ducks, white-winged scoters, common and Pacific loons, and Bonaparte’s gulls. We saw harbor porpoise, harbor seals, and Steller sea lions. We had a report of killer whales down south near Salmon Bank so we searched and searched but could not find them. Another boat called in some orcas back near Anacortes so we were on the search! We caught up with the orcas after they had just made a kill, and they passed right next to the boat! This was the T65A family and another family. We also saw some tail lobs and a breach from the whales, but the highlight was watching them group up right next to the Blakely Island shoreline! We had an awesome day and the orcas toward the end of the trip made it spectacular!
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3 Gray whales, #723, 44, and 49
Califronia sea lions
Bald eagles, western grebes, pigeon guillemots, and rhinoceros auklets
Capt. Carl spotted our first whale of the day swimming out from the Snohomish River Delta. His timing was perfect because this whale, #723, was swimming right toward us and he started lifting his tail flukes up as he ventured into deeper water. We saw his tail flukes 5 times before we decided to head northward to look for another whale that Carl spotted way off in the distance.
Eventually we found the whale, that ended up being two instead, at the north end of Hat Island. It was #44, Doubknuck, and #49, Patch. These two whales spent all of their time together today and they eventually swam right toward the shoreline of Hat Island. It was then that we got our biggest highlights of the day. Patch had already shown his tail flukes on a few occasions, but finally doubknuck raised his flukes really high in the air for us, and everybody cheered! Not to be outdone, Patch followed him up a few minutes later with a pretty high tail fluke raise of his own! They dueled back and forth a few times like that right before we had to say goodbye. Great show from two of our favorites! I think Patch won the show stopper award this time.
On the way back toward the dock we found 723 again and gave him a little time before we aimed back toward the dock. We also spotted a couple of bald eagles today and a bunch of California sea lions. Naturalist Bart Rulon
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Osprey on Jetty island
California sea lion on nav marker
Gray whale #723 of Hat island
2 bald eagles fishing off Jetty island
As we arrived at the boat this morning, ominous dark gray clouds were lingering to the south of the dock. In the distance we could see a curtain of rain slowly moving north towards the boat and we new it was headed our way. As our passengers began to arrive so did the rain, and so quickly and carefully we got them onboard and out of the weather. At this point the rain came down hard and sufficiently soaked the decks of the Island Explorer 4 and we began to wonder if it was going to end. Within a few minutes it had begun to rain itself out and before we even left the dock there were blue skies beginning to appear.
Once we were off and away from the dock we headed down the channel toward the Snohomish river delta. Captain Michael had spotted the first wild life of the day and we’d hoped to get some better looks. It was an osprey sitting in its nest and drying out from the rain that was now moving off to the north. We got some great looks at this bird before turning and heading down Jetty island toward open water. When we got to the end of Jetty we got some great close up views of a California sea lion hauled out on a navigational marker. He had obviously had a rough night because he only glanced at us momentarily before returning to his choma like state.
After that we headed out toward Hat island and it was here that Captain Michael spotted our first whale of the day!!! It was gray whale #723, Lucy, and he was making big circles in the shallows off of Hat island. We watched him for over an hour as he made his way around showing his rostrum and even showing some lazy tail flukes. After getting some good views of him we split off to search the surrounding waters of the Posession sound.
We circumnavigated Hat island on our search but came up empty handed and so we joined back up with #723. By this time he had made his way into the shallower water off of Hat island and was continuing to give us good looks. As usual the time ran out and we made our way back to the docks. Our buddy was still hanging out on the marker so we swung in for some more close ups. We continued in to the docks and got some great looks at two eagles scrapping for some fish and feeding on the top of the Jetty island pilings.
It was a beautiful day after the rain passed the sun came out and the seas were perfect!!!
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Sounds like a great day out on the water from Everett — stay tuned later for a full naturalist report from Tyson!
If you are looking to get out on the water to enjoy seeing these gentle gray whale giants, do not wait! The season is coming to an end. We are offer tours departing from the Everett Marina now through Mother’s Day (May 8th). These animals are here for a short time only before they head out and continue on their north migration.
Sounds like J Pod is back in the San Juan Islands Today — we are bummed we were not running a trip today. But come on out and join us for some Island fun Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, or Sunday of this week, or anytime now through the end of October! We would love to see you!
As Everett is wrapping up, we are gearing up to start our Port Angeles tours. This trips start on May 14th and will run deep into the fall months. It is the Wild, Wild, West out there and we get the opportunity to go farther west than any other US whale watching company. Race Rocks, Victoria BC, sea otters, elephant seals, killer whales, humpback whales…. Enjoy some spectacular land base views at the Olympic National Park and then enjoy some good old sea time with us on the Island Explorer 4 — you will be glad you did!
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