Humpbacks and Rainbows

Port Angeles

Highlights
Pilot boarding cargo ship
7 Humpbacks including BCY1215 Orion aka CS354
Race Rocks Lighthouse
Steller and California Sea Lions
Harbor Seals
Cormorants and Heermann’s Gulls

Rain threatened to make it a wet day and as luck would have it cleared out by the time we left the dock. The new snow on the Olympics was visible through the clouds as we cruised through the harbor.Atlantic salmon were being harvested from one of the fish farm pens as we passed by. Heading into the Straits of Juan de Fuca we angled to the northwest heading into the wind and waves. We watched as the pilot boat pulled next to a cargo ship headed for Tacoma and dropped off a pilot to guide the vessel safely through our inland waterways.It wasn’t long into our trip that Capt. Carl spotted our first whale, a single Humpback. With some whitecaps and chop the exhalations didn’t linger long but we got to see some great flukes as we watched this whale feed in the depths. Not far of another pair of Humpbacks was spotted so we made our way over to them and enjoyed their company for awhile before moving on to another single Humpback. All our Humpbacks were being cooperative with showing us their flukes and down times were not very long. We moved further west and found another pair of Humpbacks that were new to our area and looking like a possible mom and calf. We were able to get some good looks at a black and a white fluke side by side for comparison. With Race Rocks not far off we headed over there to check out the lighthouse and wildlife. Never a disappointment we got to see and hear California Sea Lions lounging and barking under the rocks near the lighthouse. A huge flock of cormorants were sharing a rock with some Harbor Seals. Steller Sea Lions were in abundance lined up sleeping in huge numbers on the rocks with some playing in the kelp beds. Heermann’s Gulls flocked by in preparation for their migration back to Mexico. We had some good views of Hurricane Ridge through the Elwha Valley and some beautiful rainbows appeared over Vancouver Island. As we headed back across the straits some action caught our eye and we went to check it out. We found a trio of Humpbacks with one of the three being an old friend we know as BCX1215 Orion aka CS354. We know that he is at least 7 years old this year. He seemed to having fum flinging his flukes around the other two Humpbacks but they were heading west and we had to make the turn back to the southeast eventually so we had to say our goodbyes and head for home. It was a really wonderful fall day out on the Salish Sea with lots of waves , whales, and rainbows.

Naturalist ~ Lee

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