Fog out West/Humpback and Minkes out East

Port Angeles

Highlights
Major fog bank clears out to the east
Harbor seals
Harbor porpoise
Minke whale
juvenile humpback whale
2 steller sea lions
Dungeness Lighthouse

The fog was thick as we left the dock with very little visibility. We made our way slowly out as the coast guard was also performing drills in the harbor with lots of boats all over. We passed by a few common loons still decked out in breeding plumage.  The fish farm was harvesting salmon as we passed by. We had enough visibility to see harbor seals hauled out on Ediz hook and playing in the water. with a heavy fog to the west we headed east breaking out into better visibility. As we continued eastward  we could see the fog bank behind us  and around the Olympics and it was looking sunnier and bluer skies to the east. The further we went the water conditions improved and we  wound up having a gorgeous day on the water. We passed few harbor porpoise in our travels and the further east we went the more seabirds we saw. Vancouver Island and the San Juans were visible as was Whidby Island ahead of us. Mt Baker remained clear and provided some great photo ops. We checked out  many areas with no luck and many boats were at a loss to find whales. We received a call that some minke whales and a humpback had been found not far from Port Townsend so we continued on.As we passed Protection Island the bird life became more abundant lining up in the currents including common murres and red necked phalaropes .And then there were Minke whales ahead of us and the Humpback whale a little further inland. We saw the minkes dive in the distance but when we reached the spot they were at  there was on quick surfacing and then they were gone as Minkes often do. We waited a bit and then proceeded to the humpback whale meeting up with our sister ship the Island Explorer 3. We found a juvenile humpback whale probably just a yearling by the size of it. He seemed to be on a mission as he was heading due west and at fairly good clip surfacing regularly in a fairly straight line though he deviated a few times and came right over to the boat.With his mode of travel he never brought his flukes up so we could get an ID shot since he never went down on a deep dive. We could actually track him by his footprints at the surface of the water which allowed us to know he was going to pop up right next to the boat one time.. We could see he also had a case of whale lice not  unusual for humpbacks. We spent as much time with him as possible before we had to leave him to his travels and continue ours home. Some sharp eyed passengers spotted 2 steller sea lions swimming along but they disappeared before we could go check them out. Not far beyond that a harbor seal popped up splashing and we waited to see him again but he too proved elusive. The rest of the ride back to the dock was filled with sunshine and glassy waters and we got some great looks at Dungeness lighthouse.The fog bank was still out west as we headed home but we were left to bask the sunshine.
~Naturalist~Lee

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