Snack time for T37As Transient Orcas

Port Angeles.

Highlights:
*Great Blue Heron in marina
*Harbor Seals in Port Angeles Bay
*Transient Orcas: T37A family group
*T37A’s hunting Harbor Porpoise
*Race Rocks lighthouse with Harbor Seals, Steller Sea Lions and California Sea Lions

(photo credit: Lee Leddy)

Trip Log:
Wildlife sighting began as soon as passengers boarded the Island Explorer 4. A Great Blue Heron stood tall on the floating logs just across the way from our boat dock. After exiting the marina and entering the Port Angeles Bay, more animals were spotted. Flocks of Rhinoceros Auklets and Common Murres were on the water, while Harbor Seals were swimming by just showing their heads above the sea surface. More Harbor Seals were hauled out along the shore as we passed Ediz Hook, therefore exiting the bay area. As we entered the Juan de Fuca Strait, the waters were flat calm and the sky was clear allowing us to see for miles. Our first destination was the shallow water area known as “31-36” and the “rock pile”. The shallow water areas are great spots to find lots of krill and bait fish, making it a great spot for spotting whales. We searched the area, but no whales appeared to be around. So, we headed northbound. Soon after passing into Canadian waters, we received the call about Orcas within range. They were reported near Victoria, B.C. so we made our way. The Orcas had traveled west towards Esquimalt Harbor by the time we had caught up to them. It was T37A and her family group. They continued to travel west along the shoreline. They passed Albert Head and entered Parry Bay. That is when things got interesting. Suddenly, their behavior changed. We noticed quite a bit of splashing, so we knew something had gotten their attention. And then we saw them… two harbor porpoise doing their best to avoid the hungry Orcas. Alas, the Orcas proved to be excellent hunters and ultimately enjoyed an afternoon snack. After some splashing and rolling around, the Orcas returned to their traveling mode and continued heading west. We stayed with them until they reached William Head and then we said our goodbyes. Before heading back to Port Angeles, we made a quick detour to Race Rocks lighthouse. The rocky islands around the lighthouse were full of Harbor Seals, Steller Sea Lions and California Sea Lions. It was a wonderful way to end our wildlife viewing.
~Tamara

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