Humpbacks in the wind!!!

Port Angeles

Highlights:
Bald eagles on Ediz hook and near Beecher bay
Surf scoters, common murres and Heermans gulls throughout the day
Two different humpback whales

Naturalist log:

In the morning as we left the marina, a dark ominous cloud slowly climbed over the Olympic mountains toward the Salish sea. We cruised down Ediz hook where we found two bald eagles. They were mature birds and they were both perched on radio towers at the end of the hook. As one took flight to go out and hunt we turned to the north and did the same. We headed up into Canadian waters and then continued west toward the Pacific Ocean. As we neared Sooke inlet we encountered our first humpback whale. In the beginning it was being very elusive as it was in travel mode. Soon the whale slowed down and went into a sleep pattern and we got some nice close looks at it as he kept swimming. We got a few good looks at the flukes and then turned east and headed to Race rocks. As we were headed to the light house a bald eagle passed off our stearn on its way into Canada. When we got to Race rocks we found dozens of California sea lions and Stellar sea lions sparring with each other all around the boat. As we cruised through Race pass we spotted a lone elephant seal sleeping up on the Race rocks boat launch, it was massive!!! After that we continued east until we encountered another humpback whale. It took a while to zero in on the whale but once the animal was comfortable with us it began to give a great show. Giving nice close surfacings and becoming very predictable. We arrived back at the dock just in time as it began to sprinkle just as the last guests departed the boat. All in all it was a great day out on the water!!

Naturalist Tyson

Photos to come

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The End of an Era!

Anacortes

Our last tour from Anacortes today was also a last trip for the Island Explorer 3 from this dock, as the boat will move to Port Angeles next year to run tours from the Olympic Peninsula. For ten seasons this vessel has been a workhorse, and I couldn’t personally think of a better office to work in, as she has been a fantastic platform for viewing animals and teaching so many people about our beautiful area. Today’s trip was a worthy send-off, with a really nice variety of animals and some beautiful sun breaks along the way. Common loons, belted kingfishers, and river otters were spotted as we left the marina. We saw several bald eagles fly right by us as we cruised through the San Juan Islands. At Whale Rocks the Steller sea lions were hauled out to rest. We had a treat today with several groups of Dall’s porpoise engaging with our bow wake. Watching these agile animals dart back and forth thrilled our guests for certain. We found two humpback whales near the Lime Kiln Lighthouse, and another humpback BCZ0470 near Henry Island. What a day on the water and a great wrap-up for our Anacortes season!

-Michael Colahan

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Lady Luck onboard today!!!

Port Angeles

Highlights:
Four different eagles throughout the trip
Three different humpbacks
LPod orca whales fishing
Sunny skies and calm seas

Naturalist log:

The morning started of cold and rainy, with dark clouds as far as your eyes could see. By the time we were leaving the marina the skies had lightened up a little but we’re still sending down the occasional drizzles of rain. When we got to the end of the hook we found a bald eagle sitting atop a radio antenna by the Coat guard base. While we watched the eagle multiple harbor seals popped up in the water just off shore. We got a minute before the seals went down and we started our search for whales. We searched north over a place called “The rock pile” but came up with nothing so we then cruised west to Race rocks. When we got there we discovered dozens of California and Stellar sea lions, it was pretty awesome to see them sparring and barking at each other. We also spotted two eagles on the rocks across from the light house. Now it was time to find a bigger animal and that we did. Just after picking up speed we quickly had to stop and turn around as a humpback popped up behind us. The whale quickly got comfortable with us and we began to enjoy seeing its flukes every few dives. Suddenly out of no where just off the port side the whale came flying out of the water!!! As it soared through the air it did a perfect rotation and crashed to the water on its back!!! It was so awesome that you could feel every heart on the boat stop.  After that show we continued on the search and not to long after we came across two more humpbacks. We watched them swimming side by side showing the occasional fluke. After a few surfacings one of the whales began get aggressive toward the other!!! It began slamming its tail on the surface and at one point we saw the whale push the other one up out of the water. This behavior continued even after we were leaving as the one whale just was not getting the hint. We headed east from there back toward Port Angeles. Not long after we were on step a call came through of some orca whales just ahead of us. It was the resident orcas specifically members of LPod!!! They were fishing like crazy and we were able to get some great views of ocean sun, Mega, and many others. It was a spectacular day on the water and toward the end the sun even came out and really warmed things up!!!

Naturalist Tyson
Photos to come

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WOW! What a day from Anacortes!

Anacortes Highlights:

Look at these shots of the Pacific White-Sided dolphins flying through the air!

What an amazing encounter with them as about 20 or so dolphins interacted with our boat and thrilled our guests!

We also saw two humpback whales, one of which who breach right next to us! And we saw pretty much all of LPod as the killer whales grouped up along side SJI!

   

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Pod of orcas at the end of the rainbow!!!

Port Angeles

Highlights:
Stellar sea lion feeding in the harbor
Humpbacks south of Race rocks light house
Resident orcas in the western straits
Beautiful sunny weather and calm seas all day

Naturalist log:

We started the day with a gorgeous sunrise as the clouds to the east continued pushing away from us and a large bubble of blue sky began to open up above us. After leaving the marina it was a short cruise to our first wildlife encounter. We crossed paths with a large Stellar sea lion that was currently enjoying breakfast. The sea lion would pop up above the surface just long enough to shred apart the skate that was in its mouth. Soon the seal was done and moving on so we decided to do the same. In no time at all we were viewing a large group of harbor seals on the tip of Ediz hook. They were very fun to watch but soon it was time to move along and search for bigger animals. We headed west toward the middle of the Straight of Juan de Fuca. It was hear that we got a call from a Canadian coast guard vessel telling us of whales just ahead of our position, so without hesitation we headed that way. It wasn’t long before we had to massive humpback whales pop up just off our starboard bow!!! Giving us some amazing looks as they traveled west. After a few flukes we figured out that we were watching MMX0006 and BCY0523, swimming side by side with each other. In the distance to the west  a rainbow began to form and after viewing the humpbacks for quite sometime we continued toward the rainbow. Now just like the stories tell you, there was indeed gold at the end of it, or in our case a large group of resident orcas, in bound. We started our show with Tika and Sekiu swimming together with orcas all over in the distance. The next group we visited with had Mike in it and a few females that seemed to be doing a little foraging. After a great show from these whales and even a breach right next to the boat and many big spy hops we moved to the next group of orcas. It was the J16’s and like the other groups they were headed east but beau for very playful. At one point they even pushed one of the new calves up to the surface.it was quite a show to watch and was only better with the perfect lighting the day had brought!!!!  The show was phenomenal and the weather stayed spectacular all day, it was definitely a perfect trip!!!!
Naturalist ~ Tyson
Photos ~ Lee Leddy

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Humpbacks near and far!!!!

Port Angeles

Highlights:
Two eagles outside coast guard base
Multiple humpback whales through out the day
Dozens of California and Stellar sea lions at Race rocks lighthouse
An elephant seal swimming at Race rocks

common loon

bald eagle

Brant’s geese

BCX0470

steller sea lion and lunch

Olympic mountains

2 elephant seals (R) and steller sea lions

harbor seal

California sea lion

harlequin duck

Naturalist Log:

We left the marina this morning with a light breeze blowing through the area and the sun steadily trying to burn through the clouds. To the west, large dark clouds began to pile up but in no time had pushed their way north over Canada and the seas were pleasant other than some rollers moving through the area. We patrolled the shores of Ediz hook in search of wild life and as we reached the end we spotted two bald eagles perched high on some antennas searching for their breakfast. After some great looks we continued north into the waters of the Salish seas. We headed north toward Vancouver island where we encountered our first humpback whales of the day. We got some great looks at the whale before continuing west where we acquired yet another humpback. This whale was however on a mission and was not slowing down to wait for us. After many looks we headed east toward Race rocks, it was here that encountered dozens of Stellar sea lions and California sea lions on the rocks. Their ripe smell sifting through the air directly followed by their growls and barks. We even spotted a giant elephant seal on in the area with the sea lions, it was so big and so cool to see!!! We then left Race rocks and headed south toward Port Angeles where we found not just one whale, but seven whales spread around the area. A few of which were partnered up and all of which were giving us some amazing looks!!! After all these great shows we returned to the docks under nice weather which gave us a perfect ending for the day!!!!
Naturalist – Tyson
Photos – Lee Leddy

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We find humpbacks near Lopez Island!

Anacortes
Highlights

Our tour today kept us in nice conditions, with some sunshine and calm waters. We saw two common loons, some harbor seals and harbor porpoise right as we left the dock. More porpoise were spread throughout Rosario Strait. We turned the corner at Upright Head and Boom!-spotted two humpback whales traveling south along Lopez Island! It was BCY0160 aka ‘Heather’, and BCX1227. They gave us great looks for the next hour and we saw the whales bring their tails out of the water over and over. They were at the surface all day long, and eventually made their way into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. We also stopped along side Whale Rocks to visit with some Steller sea lions. We saw a bald eagle on the navigational marker in Guemes Channel to round out a great trip!

-Michael Colahan

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