Today is our last Save BIG on Wednesday tour of the 2016 season. We have a 4pm tour from Anacortes or a 3:30pm from Port Angeles available this afternoon. Weather forecast looks to be getting better and better by the minute and so is the whale forecast!! Come enjoy one of the last evening trips available for the season on our last Save BIG Wednesday!

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Transient Orcas take us across the Straits and back home

Port Angeles

Highlights

Harbor Seals on Ediz Hook
Common Loon
T11 family with T37A family
unidentified humpback

The day was cloudy and overcast but that didn’t deter anyone from wanting to see whales. We lft the marina and headed into the harbor with a few seals hauled out on the log raft and more spotted in the harbor waters. Rhinocerous Auklets and Common Murres were rafting up probably starting to think about heading back out to sea. As we neared the end of Ediz Hook  a common loon was searching the shore for fish. Harbor seals lined the beach warming themselves in the chill morning air.  We headed off in a westerly direction in search of whales. Harbor porpoise would be seen as we traveled along the southern edge of the Strait of Juan de Fuca  getting great views of the Olympic Mountains. Elwha valley allowed us some peeks of Hurricane Ridge through the clouds. As we neared Crescent Bay a humpback whale was seen showing his flukes as he dove on his deeper dive. We waited for him to resurface..and waited…and waited…until  it seemed he had gone into ninja mode and wasn’t in a very cooperative mood. We left him to his business and continued on in our search when a call came through that transient orcas were about 5 miles to the east of us. We turned around and headed for a new destination. There we found 6 transient orcas traveling in a southeasterly direction. It appeared to be 1 very large male with 2 females and 3 younger orcas. As we watched the orcas who should make an appearance but our ninja humpback on the other side of the boat!!! Humpback whale on one side, orcas on the other. True to his nature  he soon disappeared again. Meanwhile the orcas traveled for a bit and then appeared to find some tidbit to eat as we saw some directional changes and some diving with a few gulls  gathering around them. It must have been a small snack as they were on the move again in no time. The big male turned out to be 38 year old T11A with his mom 53 year old  T11. The other mom was 22 year old T37A with 3 of her calves,  7 year old T37A2 , 4 year old T37A3 and her yearling calf T37A4. It is possible they were  doing a little hunting skills training with the calves. We followed them as they slowly turned towards Port Angeles and we spent time with them as they traveled and looked for snacks along the way checking out current lines and seeming to chase something every once in awhile. We had some nice close passes a few times as they traveled along with one of the calves even swimming upside down next to the boat. As we got near to ediz hook the two families turned towards us and came at us in a line. The surfaced a few times as they gheaded for us and at the last minute made one final surfacing and they all went down just under the water passing under the front of our boat in a line formation. It was absolutely breathtaking. You could see then clearly under the water as they swam under the boat resurfacing a little ways off on the other side. It made for a fantastic grand finale we won’t ever forget.
Naturalist-Lee

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L-pod Orcas and Minke Whales

Anacortes am
*L-pod Orcas offshore of San Juan Island
*Minke whales
*Harbor seals, harbor porpoise, and a bald eagle

We traveled out to the west side of San Juan Island today to watch L-pod orcas hunt for fish and play.  When we arrived they were quite spread out offshore, and the first orca we came across was L25, Ocean Sun, who was estimated to have been born in 1928!  She was swimming by herself, but within 400 yards L41, Mega, came swimming by too.  We got some great views of him as he swam along in a consistent pattern.

Next Capt. Mike spotted a nice group that was really bunched up and playful.  It was L77, Matia, L119, Joy,  L91, Muncher, and L122.  L119 and L122 were playing it up with each other, rolling around, lunging out of the water, and swimming sideways!  Soon after we arrived one of the moms came straight up out of the water in a big spyhop!  Later we watched a couple whales breach before we peeled off to look at more.  We cruised out to look at L85, Mystery, and then L92, Crewser, one right after another, for a nice orca finale.

On our way back toward the dock we managed to find two minke whales feeding just south of Cattle Pass.  Its a double header now!  Other wildlife we spotted today included lots of harbor seals, and harbor porpoise, a bald eagle, common murres, red-necked phalaropes, and a variety of cormorants.  What a nice day on the water!  Naturalist Bart Rulon

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Incoming Resident Orcas WOW us

Port Angeles

Highlights

Baby seal pup in marina
Harbor Seals on Ediz Hook
Humpback whale
Race Rocks
Incoming Resident Orcas
J16 Matriline entertains us

We knew it would be a good day …the sun was shining and the water was beautiful and glassy… but we  didn’t know how good it would be!!! We started off with the cutest most adorable baby harbor seal just barely weeks old if that hauled out on the logs near the boat.  Cuteness overload so early in the morning. We cruised the harbor checking out Ediz Hook and getting a cose look at the salmon pens with salmon cavorting around. As we rounded the hook a group of harbor seals were hauled out on the tip warming up in the morning sun. As we put the Olympics behind us heading out into the straits harbor porpoise were seen breaking the smooth surface and at one point a stellar sea lion was even seen swimming along. A sharp eyed passenger spotted our first whale of the day  and it turned out to be a humpback whale. We lucked out as this whale was traveling taking two breaths  then diving shallow but fluking as he dove. This allowed us ample views of his beautiful black and white tail. At one point he even surfaced right next to us  swimming along side and fluking right off the bow. The views just kept getting better but unfortunately  he was not in our ID catalog so will remain a mystery whale for awhile. Calls came in to the captain that orcas were at Otter Point heading in so we bid our humpback good bye  and headed northwest over to Canada. Along the way wediverted through Race Rocks ecological preserve to check out the lighthouse. We were in luck again as many California and Stellar sea lions were sprawled out on the rocks sunning themselves while a few sparred for dominance.Harbor seals lined up on the lower ledges of the rocks. We could hear the barking of the California sea lions almost drowning out the growls of the Stellars. Onwards we pressed looking for the telltale signs of orcas. Suddenly they were there….black dorsal fins slicing through the water. There were quite a few groups spread out  in what appeared to be smaller subpods and they seemed to be in a playful mood. The majority of the orcas near us seemed to be in the J Pod  but a few others were seen including K26 Lobo and K14 Lea along with L91 Muncher. J38 Cookie and J34 Doublestuff blew by us. Then we had the J16’s come by and the fun started. J16 Slick along with her daughter J50 Scarlet  and Scarlet’s big sister J36 Alki with her son J52 Sonic and J42 Echo decided to check us out. Spyhops and tail slaps ensued. Big Brother J26 Mike threw in giant caudal penduncle throws. They breached and spyhopped some more  then it seemed everyone wanted to roll over and lay on their backs with little Sonic imitating his uncle Mike. Now upside down tail lobs were happening  and more spyhops. It was non stop fun with one of the youngsters rolling in front of mom and getting ride  on the front of her head. We had a blast with the orcas and it was hard to say goodbye to them but eventually we had to head for home . We take with us the wonderful memories and lots of great photos from this energetic frolicking group.
Naturalist-Lee

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T Superpod in Canada!

Anacortes

Our trip from Anacortes today was awesome, with tons of wildlife and an amazing encounter with transient orcas! We saw harbor porpoise throughout the trip and slowed along Clements Reef to watch several dozen harbor seals hauled out on the rocks and a few Steller sea lions lounging in the waters. We had fog throughout the morning, but soon busted out of it and were on scene with killer whales! We had a huge gathering of whales to visit with today, including, the T65A’s, T99’s, T36’s, T37, and the T18’s. The visit with the orcas was amazing as we watched them cruise quickly at times and slow down at other times. At one point the whales split and the T99’s passed right next to our boat, with one of the whales spy-hopping right next to us! We last visited with the T65A’s and watched them pass a dozen or so lucky harbor porpoise unscathed. What a day!
-Michael Colahan

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Humpbacks out west AM/ Transient orcas out west PM

Port Angeles

AM Trip
 Highlights

Race Rocks
3 unidentified Humpback Whales
Harbor Porpoise

It was overcast and grey but the water was glassy calm. We eased past a fueling tanker and checked out the harbor seals on Ediz Hook. Common Murres were in abundance along with glaucous winged gulls. We headed northwards across the straits and recieved a call about a whale not far from the Victor Gulf buoy. With long down times , we waited and never saw this elusive humpback so we headed over to Race Rocks to check out the lighthouse. The growling and barking reached our ears as we started to see the Stellar and California sea lions on the rocks. Passing through we continued west after receiving a call about Humpbacks further west.It was a long trek but we were rewarded with 3 Humpback whales. Two were feeding side by side and we got some good looks at their flukes. They are two new unidentified whales to add to our data base. We watched them as long as we could before having to make our way home. Along the way numerous harbor porpoise were seen.
Naturalist – Lee

Port Angeles

PM Trip
Highlights

T011 family
Harbor porpoise
Harbor seals
Humpback Whale

The clouds seemed to be lifting over the Olympics as we prepared to leave the marina. A young harbor seal pup was on the logs inside the marina…soooo very cute and small. We entered the harbor passing the huge tankers fueling  up  and continued on to the end of Ediz Hook . Seabird waited hoping for a baitball to appear. Reports of transient orcas out west  had come in and so we were off in search of them. Harbor porpoise and harbor seals made occasional appearances along the way.We got to enjoy beautiful views of the Olympic Peninsula. Our journey took us as far west as Pillar Point where our Canadian friends were babysitting a pair of Transient orcas for us.They turn out to be the T011 family of 2 …T011 the mom born around 1963 and her son T011A born in 1978. They appeared to be in a hunting mode staying down for long times and separating. We had some close passes as they surfaced near the boat letting us see the difference between the male and female dorsal. An observant passenger spotted a humpback whale not far off and we got to see him as he surfaced  and finally fluked showing up his beautiful white flukes. Not long after seeing the humpback it was time to make the long trek home but it was well worth it to spend time with the transient orcas.we arrived back in the harbor as darkness fell and the harbor lights shone brightly on the flat waters while the ships were all lit up.
Naturalist -Lee

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T36 and T99 Transient Pods All Day!

Anacortes am
*Transient killer whales in the T36 and T99 pods put on a show
*Harbor Seals, 
*A bald eagle

We traveled an unlikely course today into the inner San Juan Islands to reach transient killer whales.  We met up with them at Speiden Island and the action started right from the get go!  It was the T36 and T99 pods.  The adult females were leading the way and all their youngsters were trailing behind, playing all the way!  After they passed Green Point the young orcas went wild!  They tail slapped over and over again!!  They cartwheeled, and swam upside down, and splashed around, and just had a great time together!   After a while they seemed to be lagging further and further behind their elders who appeared to be seriously looking for food.  Once they figured out the distance gap, the young orcas put the pedal to the metal and started speed swimming to catch up!  They were porpoising together right up against the shoreline of Speiden Island, making for some amazing scenery and action to end our trip!!

Anacortes pm
*Transient killer whales in the T36 and T99 pods put on a show
*Harbor Seals, 
*A bald eagle

Our afternoon trip took us back into the inner San Juan Islands to watch the same killer whales from the morning trip.  The T36, and T99 pods were circumnavigating Crane Island and we watched them surface in flat calm waters with some breathtaking scenery as a backdrop!  At one point they swam right through Pole Pass, A very narrow passageway in between Crane, and Orcas Islands.  They swam right next to the rocks at the pass with people watching them from only yards away!  We saw one breach, but the highlight of the trip was the breathtaking scenes we saw orcas surface in, one time after another, this afternoon.  What an amazing day!  Naturalist Bart Rulon

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