AM and PM Highlights
Humpbacks fluke side by side
We traveled south into the Strait of Juan de Fuca on both trips and had a great visit with some humpback whales and the fin whale! We had big sea swells to work with so we enjoyed watching these huge animals surface in and out of the big rollers. One of the humpback whales was BCX1057, and she was traveling side-by-side with another humpback on both tours. The highlight on both trips, though, was spending a lot of time with the Fin whale that has been visiting the Salish Sea for the past month! This is a huge animal, and we were in awe of this beast on every deep dive, as it’s long, sleek form glided through the swells. It seemed like the roll of the back of this whale just got bigger and bigger every time we saw it, what an amazing sight! I’ll have pictures from both trips up soon!
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9:30 AM Trip
Humpbacks in sea swells
BCX1057 Divot and friend
The sun was warm as we started off our day. We eased into the harbor checking out the lumber loaded onto a ship getting ready to head overseas.Harbor Seals were splashing in the shallows at Ediz Hook as small fishing boats clustered around the hook in hopes of catching a salmon. We headed off to our northwest into sea swells giving us a roller coaster of a ride. Not long into our journey we found a humpback near the victor foxtrott buoy and tried to keep pace with this fast moving humpback in a speed travel mode. The swells made it challenging but we had some great looks as he plowed through the surf exposing his rostrum and even once visible coming up through the wave underwater. We saw other exhalations around us and eventually checked some of them out. We got a chance to spend some time with BCX1057 Divot and her new unidentified companion. Reports came in of the finback whale a few miles to our east so we decided that we would venture that way putting the swells at our stern. When we arrived where the finback was we found a lot of humpbacks there as well. We finally found the finback amongst all the humpbacks and got to see one of our rare visitors to the Salish Sea. before heading back to port we spent some more time with a few other humpbacks in the area. Our guests braved the amazing sea swells and were rewarded with many humpbacks and the rare sight of the second largest whale in the world – the finback .
3:30 PM Trip
Humpbacks from Beechy Head across the straits
BCX 1193 Zig Zag
Race Rocks Lighthouse
Stellar Sea Lions
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We had two great trips out of Anacortes today! We had two humpbacks in the San Juan Islands in the morning! On our evening trip, we trekked into Canada to spend time with some fish eating orcas who made their way into the area!
Stay tuned for a complete report and photos!
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9:30 AM trip
BCX1057 Divot with a friend
Race Rocks and Stellar and California Sea Lions
What a gorgeous morning we had to start off our day. Blue skies sparkled on glassy water as we made our way out of the harbor passing the harbor seals hauled out on the log rafts.Our first whale was spotted by a passenger not long into our journey. Humpback number one turned out to be our old friend MMZ0004. He amused us as he surfaced with kelp draped all over him and his tail. Some breaching in the distance caught the captains eye and we were off to inspect the next pair of Humpbacks. We found BCX1057 Divot and a friend but the breaching stopped when we got there. We had some great looks at tail flukes. More exhalations were seen not far off . As the down times were a little long today we had time to check out more whales finding MMX0006 and even a stellar sea lion popped up next to the boat. Being fairly close to Race Rocks we decided to take a break from our whales and check out our pinniped friends..Race rocks as always is a fun place to inspect with a beautiful lighthouse and lots of wildlife.We got to see Stellar Sea Lions vying for spots on the rocks in a display of male dominance and California sea lions warming up on the rocks. More harbor seals dotted the lower rocks. Red necked phalaropes landed next to the boat amazingly small for a bird with such a long migration. When we headed back across the straits more Humpbacks were spotted and we checked out a few more that remain with unknown identities. All in all it was a lovely day to be out on the water seeing at least 10 individual Humpbacks with a beautiful close passing by one on our way home, We could see his whole body as he rose to the surface to exhale. Incredible views of these giants of the sea
Naturalist – Lee
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-Minke whales feeding on Hein Bank
-Turkey vultures feeding
We left on our morning trip and spotted some harbor seals hauled out on Bird Rocks. We trekked south and made our way to the Strait of Juan de Fuca. We found multiple minke whales feeding on Hein Bank. But, we cruised past them as we headed to some orcas! We had perfect timing, we watched a Navy submarine come in from the open ocean, escorted by multiple support vessels! Right as they passed by, we had perfect timing, we were on scene with orcas! It ended up being our good buddies, the T65As (T65A, T65A2, T65A3, T65A4 and T65A5) and the T37As (T37A, T37A2, T37A3 and T37A4). They swam right by us, multiple times! It even looked like they had just eaten something! It was perfect timing! Eventually, we had to head back toward homeport. We cruised home and slowed down through south Lopez Island and Castle Rock. We spotted a couple turkey vultures feeding on Blind Island. What a great morning on the water!
As we left the marina, we spotted a river otter hugging the breakwater. We found several harbor porpoise playing in the waters of Rosario Strait and Guemes Channel. At Bird Rocks, we found several harbor seals hauled out and a pair of bald eagles! we cruised south and eventually caught up with the group we had from the morning trip: the T65As (T65A, T65A2, T65A3, T65A4 and T65A5) and the T37As (T37A, T37A2, T37A3 and T37A4)! They were having an orca party! They were breaching, spy hopping, tail lobbing, chasing each other around! It was incredible! We spent a lot of quality time with them as they frolicked toward the east! We eventually had to head back toward homeport, but not before a quick slow down along Minor Island where we spotted several harbor seals hauled out, a couple of bald eagles, a surf scoter and numerous cormorants! Another beautiful evening on the Salish Sea!
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*Transient Orcas T65A & T37 family groups traveling together
*Over an hour of Orca time as they travel southeast across the Juan de Fuca Strait
*Several Humpbacks in the Rock Pile area
*Large Submarine traveling through the Strait with its escorts
(Photo credit: Lee Leddy)
One of the Humpback Whales seen today
Submarine and escorts
With the summer heat expected to be in the high 70’s, we were happy to be spending our day out on the water. We basked in the sunshine as the clear skies allowed for views across the strait for miles. We even got a great view of Mt. Baker, the third largest single peak in Washington located about 80 miles from Port Angeles.
As we entered the open waters, we headed north. It wasn’t long before we spotted our first whale of the day. It was the large exhalation of a Humpback Whale. As we watched the exhalations, Captain Dennis received a call – Orcas 7 miles ahead. The Orcas were reported to be traveling East at a fairly fast rate, so in order to make sure we had ample time with them we said goodbye to our Humpback Whale. We made sure to note where the Humpback Whale was in hopes of finding it on our way back home.
We caught up with the Orcas just south of Race Rocks. It was the family group of transient orcas T65A and some members of the family group T37. Luck was on our side as we watched the group of Orcas because they adjusted their travels to a southeast direction – pretty much heading back in the direction of Port Angeles. That allowed us to spend over an hour with the amazing whales. A few of them stood out among the crowd. One was T65A2, a 12 year old male with a tall and nicked dorsal fin. The other was an adorable 2 year old orca, T65A5, whose small dorsal fin was dwarfed by its family members. We stayed with the Orcas all the way to an area called the Rock Pile. At the Rock Pile, some other whales caught our eye. It was Humpback blows and there were several of them. We said our goodbyes to the Orcas and made our way to the Humpbacks.
As we watched the Humpbacks at the Rock Pile area, the captain let us know about an approaching visitor. It was a large submarine being escorted by the Arrowhead escort boats and a few coast guard vessels. Due to security measures we gave the submarine plenty of space to maneuver through the Strait, while still enjoying the sight of the large vessel. Luckily, when we moved northward to give the sub its needed space, we came across another Humpback Whale. This one seemed to be in a resting pattern, as it took medium length dives and did not make long distance travels. A few more Humpback Whales caught our eye before we made our return to Port Angeles.
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9:30 am trip
*Close encounter with Humpback Whale MMZ0004
*Great views of Race Rocks Lighthouse and the surrounding wildlife
*Race Rocks wildlife included Harbor Seals, Steller Sea Lions, Ca. Sea Lions, and a Sea Otter
*More Humpback Whales at the VG buoy
*Fin Whale just west of the Rock Pile, with more Humpbacks near by
*Passengers celebrating 50th wedding anniversary!
Check back soon for more photos and the trip log
3:30 pm trip
*Several Humpbacks, including MMY0006, swimming just west of the Rock Pile
*Race Rocks lighthouse with sights of Harbor Seals and Steller Sea Lions
*Some Steller Sea Lions appeared to be arguing over territory
*More Humpback Whales at the VF buoy area
Check back soon for photos and the trip log
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9:30 AM trip
Foursome including BCX1068 Split Fluke and BCZ0180 Monarch
Blue skies and breezy conditions greeted us as we started our day. Harbor Seals were hauled out on the log rafts soaking up the sun.Large tankers were moored throughout the harbor with one being refueled. The Olympic mountains were in clear skies showing off some snowy peaks. We headed out into the Salish Sea with high hopes and would not be disappointed.We were in time to see a pilot getting dropped off on an incoming ship.We checked out the rock pile and then headed west to try our luck at some other usual haunts. As we searched exhalations started to pop up seemingly all around us . There was a single and a pair of whales and next thing we knew there were four in a group also. The foursome consisted of two unidentified Humpbacks along with BCZ1068 10 year old Split Fluke and BCY0180 Monarch. One of the pair was 16 year old BCY0057 Niagara. We were lucky to be able to spend lots of time with these whales and had some very close passes next to the boat.Always very exciting to see. eventually we had to depart our friend and head back to the marina . Even our seals were still relaxing on the logs.
3:30 PM Trip
Humpbacks …BCY0160 Heather with new friend
The skies were still blue for our afternoon trip but the winds had picked up some making for choppy seas. We set off for our morning’s whales hoping they wouldn’t be too far away. A passenger spotted the first whale of the evening and we made our way over to it. Unfortunately this whale seemed intent on staying down for a long time so we continued on in the search finding another whale a few miles west. As we watched we saw other whales blowing in the distance round us. Got some good looks at a smaller whale as he/she surface and then we concentrated on 2 that seemed to have regular breathing patterns and short down times. While we waited some Harbor Porpoise surfaced nearby crossing over near the bow. Being a shy cetacean, they disappeared rather quickly. Our pair turned out to be BCY0160 13 year old Heather and a new companion that remains unidentified for now. They seemed to be feeding and enjoying each others company.We spent quality time with the pair enjoying great looks at their tail flukes and some close passes near the boat. A marine layer started to come in along with increasing seas as our time drew near an end. A final long look at the two and we journeyed on home.
Naturalist – Lee
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*J17, J22, and J11 subpods
*A humpback whale
J-pod orcas came back after being gone for a while and we headed out to Eagle Point to find them. It was the J17 subpod, at first, including J-pod’s newest calves J53,and J54! We spotted J28 and J54 first, and they were swimming back and forth looking for fish so many times that we did the whale shuffle from one side of the boat to the other over and over again. Next we found J17, J53, J44, J35, and J47 looking for fish too. After a good long visit watching the calves swim with their respective moms we headed north to take a look at a bigger whale, J27, a 25 year old male. Everyone was amazed at his tall dorsal fin. We was hanging out with his little brother J39, and J39 surprised us all with a random breach! Next we headed south in search of more whales and we found big J34 swimming all by himself offshore! On our way back toward the dock one of our passengers spotted a blow in the distance just south of Lopez Island, so we turned around to investigate. Wow, it was a humpback whale. This whale was a juvenile and it was very cooperative, showing us plenty of tail flukes! It was a double header morning!
*J17, and J11 subpods
The orcas we found on the first trip of the day were still fishing in the very same place for the afternoon. We found the first whales at Eagle Point again. This time the J17 subpod was grouped up a little more. First we saw J17, J53, J44, J35, and J47 swimming together and then later we spotted J28 with her calf J54 swimming off by themselves. We got plenty of baby time with the calves J53, and J54 during our visit. Later we peeled off to take a look at J27, and his younger brother, J39. Just like in the morning trip J39 surprised us with another random breach!! Another surprise happened when a bald eagle flew out right to where the orcas were swimming and he looked like he was after something, but turned back around when he saw the orcas surface again! What a great day out on the water! Naturalist Bart Rulon
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-Turkey vulture chick
-Two gray whales
We left on our trip today and had a treat to start us off! The turkey vulture nest that had been active at Cap Sante the past two years had a chick in it! We were very excited to see the nest is active again! We headed out and spotted numerous harbor porpoise throughout the trip. We made our way down to the Strait of Juan de Fuca where we came across two gray whales! They were rhythmically breathing side by side!We had some great looks as they headed to the east. We spent some quality time with the animals before we moved a little further to the west to Hein Bank where we found our second species of whales, minke whales! We had at least two in the area and we watched as they headed to the north side of the bank. We made the turn and caught up with our gray whale friends again! Eventually, we had to leave and head back toward home port. We did slow down at the south end of Colville Island and found so many harbor seals hauled out! We cruised home under blue skies and sunshine!
-Two bald eagles
We left on our trip this afternoon with no idea what was in store for us! We were still in the marina when we had two bald eagle soar overhead! We trekked to the south where we spotted lots of harbor porpoise in Rosario Strait. There were orcas reported out of our range (and swimming outbound toward the ocean), but they met up with another group of orcas and did a complete 180 degree turn and came back into our range, swimming very quickly! We made our way down to the Strait of Juan de Fuca. It was a little bumpy as we transited the Strait. But we got to the orcas and Captain Carl did an amazing job keeping the ride calm as we were pushed along by the waves. Then, the orcas started surfing the waves ahead of us! It was amazing! The group of orcas we were hanging out with were the T65As (T65A, T65A2, T65A3, T65A4 and T65A5) and at least part of the T37s (T37, T37A, T37A2, T37A3 and T37A4). There were other animals off in the distance that we weren’t able to identify. We watched as the orcas surfed and breached and rolled around! It was awesome! We spent some quality time with the animals before we had to head back to home port.
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