Endless Humpbacks and Transient Orcas

Port Angeles

Harbor Seals
50+ Humpback Whales
T123 family
Dall’s Porpoise
Cartwheeling Humpback in our wake


T123A Stanley
T123A Stanley

Dall’s Porpoise

What a gorgeous day we had to spend on the water. Sunshine and glassy flat water greeted us.Seabirds  lined the harbor as we left including one common loon still in breeding plumage.Harbor seals were warming themselves on Ediz Hook Point as we headed out into the Straits of Juan de Fuca. Red necked Phalaropes whirled around  as harbor seals popped their heads out of the water. Such a beautiful calm day we decided to head west and check on the incredible number of humpbacks that have been seen. We watched as a pilot boat made its way to a cargo ship while Vancouver Island and the Olympics stood out. Many harbor seals and a few harbor porpoise were spotted as we cruised westward getting some good looks at Hurricane Ridge and the Elwha Valley. After a while fog seemed to  start creeping in but it wasn’t long before we broke out of it. We passed some Dall’s porpoise  but they were intent on breakfast and paid us no heed.We eventually started seeing exhalations from humpback whales and we slowed down to  watch them. After a bit we continued westward but then fog settled in and we turned back to reaquire  the humpbacks whena call came in from an inbound cruise ship that there were orcas up ahead. Back out west we went  and with fog closing in  we feared the worst but all of a sudden the fog cleared into a beautiful blue sky and there were our transient orcas. They were the family of T123 a 31 year old female orca also known as Sydney.Her first born 16 year old son T123A known as Stanley was massive. Stanley’s little sister 4 year old T123C also known as Lucky  seemed small in comparison. we watched them travel for a bit and then they seemed to be separating going into a more foraging  pattern. We watched for as long as we could but they were taking us west and we were already by Pillar Point and Jordan River about as far west as we have ever gone. we said our goodbyes and headed back towards home but not before passing through an endless amount of humpbacks  most of unknown identity except for one known as MMX0006, As we watched humpbacks appeared everywhere exhaling and showing their flukes. We had to continue home but some breaching caught our eye and we angled over to check it out. Unfortunately the breaching had ceased by the time we got there. No worries though we had sooooooo many humpbacks all around us to keep us amused. We traveled home and the humpbacks kept appearing. We must have traveled 10 miles with non stop humpbacks all across the straits. We even had a pair surfing in our wake and the one was having so much fun he threw a couple of cartwheels or caudal peduncle throws. The dall’s porpoise made another appearance but were still distracted by all the food in the water. Distant views of Race Rocks Lighthouse came into sight as we got closer to home.Mt Baker stood out on the eastern horizon. A stellar sea lion  was seen flinging around a fish as we passed by and not long after that a california sea lion also had some lunch he was trying to keep from the gulls. The harbor seals were still staying warm on the beach as we headed into the harbor. We arrived a little later than normal but happy knowing we had seen sights that not many people experience and on such a grand scale that even to explain it doesn’t do it justice. For those of us there today WE know just how amazing a day we had.

Naturalist – Lee

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