LAST CALL FOR GRAY WHALES! There’s only one more week of gray whale tours from Everett, and it seems the whales have saved the best for last! We’ve averaged 4-5 gray whales on every tour this week. Don’t miss your opportunity to see these gentle giants before they head north for the summer! To learn more, visit http://ift.tt/2qt9UMn.

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The Return of “Split Fin” and Spyhopping Gray Whales!

Spyhopping Gray Whale 





La Conner Highlights: 
Humpback “Split Fin”
Harbor Porpoise
Steller Sea Lions
Bald Eagles
Deception Pass Bridge

Our full-day La Conner tour got to welcome back a fan-favorite, humpback whale BCZ0298, more commonly referred as “Split Fin”, a nickname earned by the easily-recognized “split” in the animal’s dorsal fin.  Split Fin is one of our regulars at this time of year, the 2006 calf of “Big Mama” who has also been spotted in the area in recent weeks. After a morning filled with Steller sea lions, rhinoceros auklets, great blue herons, harbor porpoise, and harbor seals, we stopped to enjoy lunch in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island!  After filling our bellies, the second half of the tour was spent observing Split Fin and we even got some looks at the tail flukes before longer dives.  We headed home under Deception Pass Bridge and got an impressive acrobatic display from some mature bald eagles!   In the evening, our La Conner wildlife tour visited the bridge again and saw harbor seals, pigeon guillemots, cormorants, and more!  It was a non-stop day of wildlife from beginning to end!

Humpback “Split Fin”
Split Fin


Steller Sea Lions


Deception Pass Bridge 



Everett Highlights: 
Multiple Spyhopping Gray Whales
California Sea Lions
Bald Eagles
Harbor Seals Feeding

Our afternoon tour featured five different gray whales, with confirmed sightings of #53, #49, and #56.  We had the pleasure of seeing at least FIVE spyhops from three different whales!  Guests also got stunning looks at a mated pair of bald eagles on a piling near Jetty Island and three more juvenile bald eagles on the beach.  For our sunset tour, there were still at least five gray whales spread out in the shallow river delta feeding.  Gray whale #44 was quite photogenic, giving us great looks at his tail flukes.  We also got to see several harbor seals, including one that was feasting on something tasty!

Pair of Gray Whales 
Mature Bald Eagles
Gray Whale Flukes

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Spanning more than a quarter of a mile and sitting an impressive 180 feet above the water’s surface, Deception Pass Bridge is one of the most photographed landmarks in Washington. See it and much more on our 2.5-hour wildlife cruise from La Conner TONIGHT at 6:00 PM! Tickets are a steal at just $29! For more information, visit: http://ift.tt/2oJDVLd (Photo Credit: Amit Chattopadhyay)

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How does that famous saying go? “April showers bring… WHALES!” We know you’re longing for sunny summer days, but whales don’t care about the weather! We’ve had out-of-this-world sightings of orcas, minkes, grays, and humpbacks this spring, and we don’t want you to miss out! Take advantage of our “Save Big Spring” promotion and get $20 off each adult ticket from Anacortes, Everett, or La Conner when you join us Monday through Friday. Make reservations or learn more about our tours and discounts at www.orcawhales.com!

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While we think it’s important to treat every day like Earth Day, we hope you’ll take some extra time today to think of new and fun ways to help our big, blue planet! Whether you plant a tree, organize a beach cleanup, or just raise awareness about a cause that’s important to you, get out there and do something great!

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Grays and a Humpback Wish Us a Happy Easter!

Anacortes
Trip Highlights:
  • Humpback whale
  • Stellar Sea Lions
  • Bald Eagles
  • Harbor Porpoise
Naturalist Notes:

Left anacortes with sunny blue skies all around. With great views of mount baker we plunged out into the San Juans in search of whales. We got some great looks at some harbor seals on a dock outside anacortes and then even more on Pointer island. We continued inner island and down San Juan channel encountering a large number of stellar sea lions near whale rocks. We continued south out into the Strait of Juan de Fuca where we joined a humpback that was showing some interesting behaviors. We got some great looks at the whale even though it was being very unpredictable. After that we went up to Castle rock where we found 5 different bald eagles all of which gave us great looks. We then headed north passing dozens of harbor porpoise along the way. Returned to the dock in blue skies and great weather! 

Everett

Trip Highlights:
  • Gray Whales (#53 and #49)
  • Rhinoceros Auklet
  • Pigeon Guillemot
  • Brandt’s Cormorants
  • California Sea Lions
Naturalist Notes:

We started with partly cloudy skies and calm seas. We began the trip with California sea lions on the navy pontoons and one hauled out on a green buoy. Very quickly we had helpful guests spot us a couple of gray whales off the south tip of hat island. They were identified as patch 49 and little patch 53. From afar we saw a big spyhop from one of the whales. We also saw lots of feeding behavior. We decided to head south to looks for other wildlife and found lots of marine birds including the rhinoceros auklet, pigeon guillemot, and Brandt’s cormorants. We also found another gray that had long downtimes and were unable to ID. We headed back to patch and little patch to hang out with them again. As we made our way back to the marina we got another encounter with the California sea lions.

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Transients from Both Locations – Great Gray Whales Too!

Double Breach!

Anacortes Highlights:

Transient Killer Whales: T49A’s, T65A’s, T65B’s
Steller Sea Lions
Bald Eagles

Our Anacortes tour today was, to use Captain Scott’s description, one of the best encounters with transient orcas we’ve ever had with Island Adventures!  We didn’t have to travel far to find our whales today just north of Cypress Island.  It was a group of transient killer whales including the T49A, T65A, and T65B family groups.  We must have caught them during playtime because we saw plenty of tail slaps, splashing, and DOUBLE BREACHES! We saw at least three synchronized breaches from this bunch!  After having an encounter of a lifetime, we did some exploring near Pea Pod Rocks where we saw some Steller sea lions and a mature bald eagle as well as several other sea birds.  Afterward we checked back in on our orcas who were now resting, perhaps worn out from the earlier activity.  On the way home we found plenty of harbor porpoise in Rosario Strait along with pigeon guillemots and cormorants.  Add to this the fact that it was warm and sunny all afternoon and you have the makings of a trip that will go down in history as a one of the best!

Everett 10AM Highlights:
Transient Orcas – T100’s
Harbor seals
Steller sea lion

While our Everett tours focus primarily on springtime gray whales, on occasion we are lucky enough to see other types of whales as well, and today we had a special visit from the T100 group of transient killer whales! We caught up with this group near Possession Point.  They even had a young calf in tow!  Other notable sightings included a photogenic Steller sea lion sunbathing on a buoy and harbor seals cruising around the marina.  


Everett 2PM Highlights:
Gray Whales in Port Susan 
California Sea Lions
Harbor Porpoise
Osprey

The sunshine continued into the afternoon.  We made our way toward Port Susan where we encountered two gray whales feeding nearshore.  Because of the sunshine, virtually every exhalation created a colorful “rain-blow”.  We also saw some California sea lions basking in the sun on a channel marker and our naturalist, Jami, was able to catch some great shots of some normally camera-shy harbor porpoise as well.  We even caught an aerial show from an osprey overhead!  

Everett 6PM Highlights:
Gray Whales in Port Susan
Harbor Seals 
California Sea Lions
Sunset!

The fun continued into the evening as we caught back up with our gray whales from earlier in Port Susan.  As we watched them, one even lifted its head out of the water a bit!  The water was flat calm, giving us great photos of this gray whale duo.  We saw a few harbor seals swimming around as well, and as the sun began to set and we headed home, we finished the day by stopping to look at some California sea lions near the Navy base settling in for the evening.  It was a perfect end to a perfect day of whale watching! 

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Transient Orcas from Anacortes, Back-to-Back Gray Whales from Everett




Anacortes Highlights:
Transient Orcas T101’s, T124A’s, T65A’s
Steller Sea Lions
Immature Bald Eagles
Huge Flock of Bonaparte’s Gulls

We had calm waters and mostly sunny skies for our tour today.  Shortly after getting off the dock, we spotted turkey vultures in a nest near Cap Sante Lookout.  We ventured over to Pointer Island for a look at some sunning harbor seals and a mature bald eagle.  As we cruises northbound up Rosario Strait we saw several bald eagles, both mature and immature birds, along the Blakely Island shoreline.  Continuing north, we entered the Georgia Strait which is where we found a mother lode of transient orcas – the T101’s, T124A’s, and T65A’s!  They were grouped together nicely, allowing for excellent viewing.  We took a detour to look at some Steller sea lions and more bald eagles on the Belle Chain Islets before returning to the orcas, which were not on both sides of the boat.  Near East Point, we encountered perhaps the largest flock of Bonaparte’s gulls we’ve ever seen.  The icing on the cake was spotting a beautiful rainbow on the way home.



Everett 2:00 PM Highlights:
Gray Whales 21 and 56
California Sea Lions
Mature Bald Eagles

Only in Washington could we have both blue skies and scattered rain simultaneously!  The tour started with great looks at California sea lions on the Navy pontoons.  On the east side of Camano Island into Port Susan we spotted two gray whales off Stanwood (21 & 56).  While watching the whales, two mature bald eagles flew right over the whales and landed in the trees!  The whales were traveling closely together and feeding near shore. On the way back to the marina, we saw a California sea lion hauled out on a floating marker and got a good laugh as another tried to jump onto a buoy but missed and ended up splashing down into the water.  

Everett 6:00 PM Highlights:
Gray Whale 49, “Patch”
Mature Bald Eagle
California Sea Lions

The evening tour started off a bit cloudy, but the skies turned blue throughout the trip. We started with a mature bald eagle on the Navy pier, and just outside the marina we saw a harbor seal swimming. Next we watched the California sea lions on the navy pontoons. There were no shortage of rainbows as we travelled. Captain Carl spotted one blow crossing from Fox Spit to Elger Bay, but the whale had extremely long dive times so we continued on. Fortunately, not long after we found Gray Whale 49, “Patch”, showing lots of splashing, tail, and feeding behavior at south Elger Bay.  After some great viewing, we headed home with a beautiful sunset.

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Grays All Day from Everett; “Big Mama” and Orcas from Anacortes

Transient Orcas

Anacortes Highlights: 


Transient Killer Whales T124A, T124A3, T124A4, and T124A6
Humpback BCX0324 – Big Mama
Steller Sea Lions on Ewing Island


Today was a bit breezy, but fortunately quite pleasant compared to the storm that blew through yesterday!  We headed north up Bellingham Channel where we found several harbor porpoise and spotted a couple of bald eagles on Cypress Island.  We slowed near Peapod Rocks where we found another bald eagle and several harbor seals hauled out.  Continuing on, Captain Shane slipped into Rolfe Cove on Matia Island and found more harbor seals, several Canada geese, and even a pair of harlequin ducks!  A stop at Ewing Island yielded a large group of Steller sea lions that proved quite photogenic.  We pressed on north into Canada and were rewarded for our long journey with a special encounter with orcas! It was a group of Bigg’s killer whales including T124A, T124A3, T124A4 and new little one T124A6!  They were traveling southbound, zigging and zagging every which way. At one time they even headed directly to us -it was great!  We spent some quality time with them before turning for home, but not before one of our sharp-eyed passengers spotted another whale!  This time it was a well-known humpback whale, “Big Mama”!  We had a couple of great looks at her, able to cross two different whale species off the list.  Heading home we spotted more harbor seals and harbor porpoise.  The winds died down and the sky got brighter and brighter throughout the day – we even saw the sun!

Close-Up of “Big Mama”
Steller Sea Lions


###




Gray Whale Close-Up


Everett 10 AM Highlights:
Four Feeding Gray Whales (53, 56, 49, and 383)
Mature Bald Eagles
Harbor Seal
California Sea Lions


Our morning tour started off with partly cloudy skies and calm seas.   We had a brief encounter with harbor seal on east side of Hat Island before spotting two mature bald eagles in the trees on the east side of Camano.  Our first whales of the day were a pair of gray whales swimming together on the west side of Camano.  We identified this duo as gray whales 53 and 56.  We had some fantastic close encounters with these whales before continuing on to find another pair further north, 49, “Patch”, and 383!  We saw lots of feeding behavior as they feasted on ghost shrimp in the shallows. On our return, we capped things off with some California sea lions sleeping on the Navy pontoons. 

Everett 2 PM Highlights:

Gray Whales 356, 53, and 383
Osprey Nest
Bald Eagle
California Sea Lions

By the afternoon, it was mostly cloudy, but the seas remained calm.  A mature bald eagle greeted us on Jetty Island, and we found two osprey in a nest on a nearby piling!  We discovered our first gray whale (356) on the west side of Hat Island in Possession Sound. As we headed north to Saratoga Passage, we found two more grays feeding close to shore on west side of Camano Island.  These were 53 and 383, two of the whales from our morning tour.  We got some great looks at their tail flukes as they fed on their sides near shore.  After an afternoon of gray whale action, our California sea lion friends posed for photos on the Navy pontoons. 


Everett Sunset Highlights:

Three Gray Whales
Osprey with Dinner
Steller Sea Lion
Gorgeous Sunset


Our trip started with a bang as we watched and osprey dive-bombing for fish near Jetty Island! We watched as he flew away with a fish in his talons after a successful catch.  We said hello to our California sea lions on the Navy pontoons and spotted a second type of sea lion, a larger Steller sea lion, swimming in the water on the east side of Hat Island. We went toward Saratoga passage and found three gray whales all very close to each other practicing their synchronized swimming and diving. We got a couple of looks at their tails and a close encounter as the whales swam right under the boat!  There was no topping that, but the gorgeous orange sunset as we were heading home came close!

Osprey Nest
Gray Whale Feeding
Sunset Near Everett

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