Orcas J17, J53, and J44 fishing at Possession Point
Gray whales 49 and 723
As we were cleaning the boat and preparing for our day we got word that orcas had been spotted from shore down near Kingston, heading northward. We were hopeful that the whales might be within our range by the time we left the dock. We scanned for gray whales toward Hat Island and Capt. Mike spotted one quickly so we headed over for a look. It was gray whale 723 and he gave us a handful of good views as he headed northward. He even showed his tail flukes before we decided to head southward to see if we could find a black and white variety of whale.
When we arrived at Possession Point we were really looking hard, especially to the west. A large flock of birds were gathered and Capt. Mike observed them scattering abruptly from a distance as we approached. That was definitely suspicious, but it wasn’t until a passenger spotted some dorsal fins that we knew for sure, we had orcas right on the other side of the birds!!! It turned out to be three killer whales – J17, Princess Angeline, J44, Moby, and the new calf, J53!
This trio was in a hunting mode. Possession Point is a known fishing spot for Blackmouth salmon and the whales must have been finding something out there. They zigged and zagged, and were working their way slowly westward. Out of the blue, J44, Moby, decided to breach twice for us!! Wow, what a surprise! We followed the whales as far west as we could and were just about ready to turn back toward the dock when we noticed them turn back toward the east. Ok, let’s spend a little more time with them! At this point it was very obvious that they were fishing hard, with all the changes of direction, and quick lunges at the surface! All of this was happening with the beautiful backdrop of the Olympic Mountains!
On our way back toward the dock we had a little time to spare in order to check out a few gray whales near Hat Island. This time 723 was joined by our buddy, Patch. These two whales surfaced side by side with Mount Baker in the background! What an awesome trip! Naturalist Bart Rulon