Humpback Haven and Orcas too

Port Angeles.

Highlights:
*Humpback Whale CS272 near Race Rocks
*Resident Orcas near Becher Bay – JPod & KPod members present
*Wonderful wildlife sights at Race Rocks including a Sea Otter floating in a kelp bed
*Humpbacks Galore! as we headed back towards Port Angeles. There were at least 10 Humpback whales in the area. 
*Great looks at Humpback Whales BCX1251/CS354 “Orion” paired up with BCX1057, BCZ0298 “Split fin” paired up with BCY0160 “Heather” and BCY0324 “Big Mama” with her calf.

(Photo Credit to Lee Leddy, unless otherwise noted)

(Breaching Orca photo credit: Erin Johns Gless)

Trip Highlight:
Sunny skies and calm winds had us anticipated a wonderful day out on the water. We departed the marina anxious for what could be awaiting us. We did not go far before spotting some wildlife. Harbor Seals on floating logs and a California Sea Lion relaxing on a buoy were good omens for what was ahead. As we crossed the Juan de Fuca Striat, word was heard of a brave swimmer making a swimming attempt from Becher Bay to Crescent Bay. We wished him luck on his journey, though we were too far to see him in person. As Race Rocks was in view, a large exhalation caught out attention. It was a Humpback Whale. Lucky for us, this whale was in a tail showing mood. As it lifted it’s flukes (term used for a whale’s tail), it revealed its unique markings. It was CS272. We got several great views of CS272, as its deeper dives only lasted about 6 minutes. We said our goodbyes to CS272 and headed west. Captain Shane had received a call – Orcas were in range.
We met up with the Orcas, just outside of Becher Bay, near Beechey Head. It was a large pod of resident orcas. Members of the J pod and K pod were present and spread out. We were in luck as they were headed east, so we made the u-turn and traveled with them. As we traveled we enjoyed the sights of the tall dorsal fins, fluke slaps, cartwheels and even a few breaches. Some of the whales we saw included J2 “Granny”, J49 “T’ilem I’nges”, J14 “Samish”, K27 “Deadhead”, K34 “Cali”, K14 “Lea”, K36 “Yoda”, K26 “Lobo” and L87 “Onyx”. After about an hour of enjoying the Orcas, we parted away from them and headed to Race Rocks. The rocks were full of wildlife including California Sea Lions, Steller Sea Lions, Harbor Seals and a few Elephant Seals. For sharp eyed passengers, a Sea Otter was spotted floating among the kelp bed. What a Treat! As we completed our pass through Race Rocks, we were pleasantly surprised to find that the Orcas had caught up to us. Allowing us to enjoy a second dose of Orca sights.
The time came for us to make our way back across the Juan de Fuca Strait, so we parted for the Orcas again and went on our way. We didn’t get very far before more whales made an appearance. It was more Humpback Whales. This time it was 2 whales traveling in a pair. BCX1251/CS354 “Orion” and BCX1057 were swimming side by side. We watched, enjoying their flukes as they dove on deep dives. Lucky for us the deep dives were quite short – only about 4 minutes long. Then we got really lucky as the whales turned right towards the boat. Captain put us in neutral and we watched as the whales passed just behind our boat. It was breath-taking. We let the whales continue on their way and continued in the direction of Port Angeles. However, more whales would prevent us from making it home just yet.
It was a Humpback Haven! As we looked out in the distance exhalations could be seen from multiple whales. I think we lost count at just over 10 whales! We were able to get close looks at some including BCZ0298 “Split Fin” swimming with BCY0160 “Heather”, and BCY0324 “Big Mama” paired up with her calf, who is affectionally called “pop-tart”.
As we came back to Port Angeles, the California Sea Lion was there on his buoy, but now he had a buddy resting by him. It was a great way to be greeted back home.
~Tamara

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