Penn Cove and Gray Whales

Everett

Highlights:
Harbor porpoise
Sea lion
Surf scoters
Brant geese
Gray whales #21 and #22

Today the Island Explorer 3 left the dock in Everett and turn north in search of wildlife and whales.  As we reached Penn Cove, just north of Coupeville on Whidbey Island, and were joined by two gray whales who we believe to be #21 and #22!!   They had short down times which made our time with them full of fantastic looks!  We even had some close passes from the pair.   On our way back to the dock the sky broke way to a bit of blue right above the Olympic Mountain Range.   Despite the impending weather forecast, the rain held off for the majority of the trip!  We wish our guests, Arvada West High School Band and Orchestra the very best in their upcoming competition.  It was a pleasure having them out on the water with us today!

 

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Confirmed – Gray Whale #356 Is Back!




Gray Whale #356






Everett Highlights:
Gray Whale #356
California Sea Lion Lunching
Harbor Porpoise


It was a bit breezy on today’s tour, but mostly sunny which was a pleasant surprise!  Our first marine mammals of the day were several California sea lions on the pontoons near the Navy base.  As we headed north, we came across a few harbor porpoise in Saratoga Passage.  Continuing north to Baby Island, a few of our sharp-eyed passengers found a gray whale exiting Holmes Harbor.  It was Gray Whale #356!  We thought we saw him a couple of days ago, but he was being shy that day and we couldn’t quite confirm.  Glad to see him back for another season!  He turned and made his way south in Saratoga Passage allowing us to spend some quality time with him. We had some great looks as he maintained a rhythmic breathing sequence. We spotted some gulls circling nearby and went to investigate. There was a California sea lion eating some lunch! It was a skate. There were three other sea lions in the area. It was amazing to watch – National Geographic stuff as he thrashed the skate in every which way. We caught up with our gray whale once more and watched him surface a few more times before returning back home for the day.  

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Grays Whales, Gray Whales Everywhere!






Gray Whale


Everett Highlights: 
Several Gray Whales (Possibly 21, 22, and 356)
Bald Eagles
California Sea Lions

The rains held off for our Everett tour today.  After passing some California sea lions on the pontoons near the Navy base, we found our first gray whale near Hat Island.  This first whale proved fairly elusive, so we caught up with a couple of gray whales along the Whidbey shoreline.  These whales appeared to be gray whales #21 and #22.  They surfaced regularly and gave our guests great looks as they popped up close by.  Afterward we caught up with our shy gray whale from earlier to try to make an ID.  We only caught a glimpse as this whale had long down times, but we believe it was gray whale #356.  After leaving him, we continued north and found some harbor porpoise near Camano Head.  There were a few harbor seals in the delta and more sea lions on the pontoons as we neared home, and as a special treat we found two bald eagles, one adult and one juvenile, on Jetty Island.  Based on our confirmed sightings in the last week and comparing with other sightings from the area, we believe there are not at least 6-7 confirmed individuals in the area so far this season.  Things are really heating up now! 

Gray Whale

Two Bald Eagles on Jetty Island 

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It sure has been nice to see this skyline for the last few months. With orcas, humpbacks, minkes, and grays, Seattle was very good to us this winter! Join us tomorrow at 11:00 AM for the last Seattle sailing of the season before we kick off our Anacortes and La Conner programs next week!

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Gray Whales and Rainbows!

The Trip Starts with a Rainbow

Everett Highlights:
Gray Whales Feeding
California Sea Lions
Navy Destroyer

We left the dock this morning with a huge rainbow over the Possession Sound. As we traveled along Jetty Island there was almost a perfect line between the sunny blue skies above and the dark black skies just to the west of us. Reaching the end of Jetty Island we got to watch a Destroyer as it returned to the Everett naval yard. After that we plunged north into the sound passing small groups of cormorants as they scouted the waters surface for food. We ventured into Port Susan where we found not one but two gray whales.  At first they were very elusive, but soon they entered the shallows off the mainland and began to feed. We got some great looks at their tail flukes and pectoral flippers as they fed.  It was awesome to see!!! After that, we headed back south into an ever darkening storm.  Luckily the wind continued to build and pushed it right past, allowing us a little more sunshine on the trip in. We did a brief slowdown outside the naval station where we got some great looks at multiple California sea lions.  A few were even jockeying for position on the naval yard fence buoys. We continued into the dock with only a little rain throughout the day and some very hungry whales.

Gray Whale

Two Gray Whales Swim Together

Gray Whale

Gray Whale 

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Seattle Doubleheader – Humpback AND Orcas!

Adult Male T11A
Seattle Highlights:
Unidentified Humpback Whale
Transient Orcas – T11’s and T46B’s
Harbor Seals
California Sea Lions
We’ve had a lot of 2017 firsts in the last week – first minke whale of the year, first orcas of the year, and today, we can claim our first doubleheader of the year!  We took off toward the north near prime gray whales feeding grounds, but found two unexpected surprises instead!  Even though we’re in the thick of gray whale season, as we approached the southwest side of Whidbey Island, a humpback whale surfaced at our 12 o’clock position!  We didn’t get to see the tail of this whale, but we did get to observe the animal for several surfacings and can say with certainty that it was not Speckles, the young humpback that we have seen several times in Puget Sound this winter.  Exciting to see a new humpback “face” around the Sound!  Not 10 minutes after leaving our humpback, we continued north near Point No Point and saw the tall dorsal fin of a male killer whale along with about 7 or 8 other orcas!  By looking at their fins and saddle patches, we identified these as the mother/son pair T11 and T11A as well as the T46B family of transient killer whales!  We were nervous as they seemed to be heading with speed in the direction of our new humpback friend, but fortunately for the whale (and unfortunately for a California sea lion), they had other plans.  We watched them tussle with the sea lion and while it didn’t look fun, it appeared that they weren’t in the mood to snack and continued south, leaving the sea lion shaken (literally) at the surface.  Since the orcas were heading straight for Seattle, we were able to watch them for quite a while but eventually had to part ways.  We took some time for a quick stop near Blakely Rock to see some harbor seals, pigeon guillemots, cormorants, and common goldeneyes before heading back to Elliott Bay just in time for the sun to peek out from behind the clouds. 
Unidentified Humpback Whale
Transient Orcas
T46B Family

Harbor Seals

Large Male California Sea Lion

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We Catch Up with Patch!

“Patch” Surfaces Near the IE4
Everett Highlights:
Gray Whale #49, “Patch”
Western Grebes and Surf Scoters
Harbor Seals
Harbor Porpoise
California Sea Lions
It was a wet Washington morning, but that didn’t dampen our spirits!  Captain Scott started the journey by heading toward Port Susan and encountered plenty of harbor seals, harbor porpoise, and a couple of California sea lions on the way.  Near the mainland side of Port Susan, a bald eagle caught our attention as it riled up some surf scoters.  Seeing no whale spouts in Port Susan, we continued making the rounds to the usual gray whale feeding spots and headed into Saratoga passage up to Baby Island.  There we found a large raft of Western grebes and found Gray Whale #49, “Patch”, along Mabana Beach.  Patch popped up fairly regularly and even gave us a glimpse of his tail before one of his dives.  On one surfacing, he came up very close to the boat giving us great looks at his signature white patch – quite a treat!  

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