Red Necked Phalaropes
6 Humpbacks outside of Port Angeles
Coast guard drills
What an amazing day to go out on the water considering just the other day a massive storm blew through here. We could still see the aftermaths scattered in the water in the form of driftlogs and bull kelp everywhere from the harbor out into the straits. Large tankers were moored inside the harbor and salmon were being harvested in the fish farms. The Olympics peaked out from the clouds showing us a new blanket of snow picturesque as could be. Harbor seals popped in and out of the surface as we exited the marina but no worries there for those that missed them as a big group was hauled out on the log rafts. We set off out into the straits going northwest and not knowing what the day would bring. We thought after the big blow the searching might be hard and the whales a little more scattered but that goes to show you whales will always surprise you and do the unexpected. Not to far from Port Angeles and with the Canadian whale watch boats just getting under way one of our passengers spotted the first whale in the distance making our whale the first whale of the day to be found!!!. Off to a great start we watched this Humpback whale as he traveled east doing shallow dives but only surfacing for a few breaths. Even so we had ample time to photograph his flukes as he showed them to us often. Meanwhile a few more exhalations were seen a little closer to Port Angeles so we decided to pass this whale on the the other whale watch boats as we checked out the next 2 Humpbacks. This pair traveled side by side and one was a little fluke shy but the other one could be identified as BCX0470. As we watched these two we had some glimpses of red necked phalaropes and a pelagic seabird called a shearwater that had been blown inland with the storm. The scenery around us was ever changing as a brief rainstorm blew through and with its passing dry skies ahead and flat calm waters. This pair headed westward taking us pass the Elwha river Valley and we eventually left them to check out our fourth humpback. While watching him we found 2 more a little further west and they looked like they were heading towards each other. Once again we found ourselves with 2 more humpbacks making a total of 6 we had seen and all of them very cooperative surfacing close enough to the boat we could hear their exhalations. So many Humpbacks and all so close to Port Angeles that we had an awesome amount of whale time!! With all that time we got some good looks at flukes but only one could be identified in our catalogs. A few of the whales had been seen this summer but have not yet been cataloged being new to our area. Always exciting to have new whales to add to our catalogs. When time came to head home we headed back southeast enjoying the rainshadow effect knowing when we got into port some liquid sunshine awaited us and enjoying the beautiful vistas the Olympic Mountains were providing. As a finale the coast guard was putting on a show with 2 of their helicopters doing some drills right outside the harbor.
Naturalist ~ Lee