Almost immediately we were joined by harbor porpoise fishing in the current lines. Perhaps it was an omen of a wildlife-packed trip? We would have to continue on to find out.
As we pushed north past Orcas Island we slowed up to view some harbor seals hauled out on Clements Reef. With the seals were several harlequin ducks and pigeon guillemots. As we picked up speed a couple of the ducks took flight, winging away to the west.
But we were on the lookout for whales and it wasn’t long before we spotted them. As we passed Patos Island we met up with a large group of transient, or marine mammal-eating, killer whales. We didn’t have just one or two families here but whales from six different matrilines! The whales from our morning trip, the T123s, T75Bs, T36As, and T51, had joined up with another group of whales, the T137s, T65Bs and T124C. As we arrived on scene the two lone males of the group were hanging out on the outskirts while the rest seemed to be enjoying some social time. We saw breaches, spy hops, and tail lobs galore. And then they abruptly changed direction and came towards us, still socializing. What an incredible encounter!
They continued to socialize as they circled the area and the two males, T124C and T51, were always in the area but not involved in the main social group. As they moved off however a smaller fin popped up with T51–either a female or juvenile male–and the two whales swam together off from the main group.
Eventually we had to bid farewell to the whales and start back towards home. Slowing up at Puffin Island we spotted a bald eagle and nest. Cruising back south past Guemes Island we slowed to check out a cormorant rookery and Captain Carl spotted another adult bald eagle while naturalist Brooke spotted two belted kingfishers actually in the process of fishing. Awesome!
With that we cruised back to the dock and wrapped up a beautiful evening on the water!