|Thanks to Steve Berentson for capturing this fantastic photo of the Island Explorer 5!|
Maiden Voyage of the IE5!
Today marked a momentous occasion – after two long years of design and construction, the beautiful Island Explorer 5’s maiden voyage was a huge success! We started out down Guemes Channel and then into Rosario Strait where harbor porpoise abounded. We came across plenty of harbor seals and pigeon guillemots at the south end of Lopez Island, and then came across an eagle’s nest in MacArdle Bay. After that, it was out to the west in record time! We made our way to Race Rocks and found California sea lions, elephant seals, and A SEA OTTER! Cruised through a couple of times (since we had plenty of time), and then headed toward where the Island Explorer 3 from Port Angeles had found whales earlier. Before we could even get back up to speed, two humpback whales popped up right in front of us! It was BCX1057 and MMY0009. They surfaced simultaneously in a rhythmic breathing sequence. They popped up close to the boat as they resurfaced from their deep dive a couple of times! We could even hear them exhale. It was so exciting! As we cruised back toward home, we caught a few quick glances of a bonus whale – a minke at Salmon Bank! We headed in toward Whale Rocks and found several Steller sea lions hauled out and in the water. Two even chased each other into the water! They were running! We navigated home through the inner islands, why? Because we could! We made it to Race Rocks, spent quality time with whales, had the chance to see animals that previously were quite rare to see on an Anacortes departure, even had enough time to cruise inner island. We were only 15 minutes late! Woohoo!
|Look closely…. Can you spot the otter?|
Port Angeles Highlights:
California Sea Lions
It was a beautiful sunny day from Port Angeles with blue skies and calm seas and good looks at Mount Baker all day. The day started with three California sea lions hauled out on a buoy just off the tip of Ediz Hook. We also saw a couple of harbor seals swimming nearby. We continued on north after a report of humpbacks in the area and caught up with one humpback about halfway between Port Angeles and Victoria. The whale showed us great looks of the tail and seemed to be showing some feeding behavior. After watching this whale for a while, we turned west and headed toward another report of several more humpbacks a few miles west of Race Rocks. We caught up with at least two more humpbacks, possibly three. There was lots of surface activity and even a couple pectoral slaps! The whales seemed to be socializing and rolling on top of each other! We also got looks at a few bird species including common murres, pigeon guillemots, rhinoceros auklets, and harlequin ducks. As we departed, we caught up with a pod of harbor porpoises. We then cruised to Race Rocks where we saw more California sea lions, harbor seals, many cormorants, and even our resident sea otter in the kelp! We then made our way back to Port Angeles to continue enjoying the sunshine.