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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