Absolutely flat calm waters greeted us this morning making anything in the water easy to spot. Many harbor porpoise were seen on and off throughout our trip. The olympics had a good amount of cloud cover but some of the snow capped peaks managed to shine through occasionally. Our first whale came as a pair of humpbacks feeding deep then resting at the surface in between. They were whales we knew as BCY0523 and BCX1251 Orion. A little farther away we encountered another humpback also feeding and this one we didn’t recognize. After enjoying their company we continued our search and headed for Race Rocks.While there we found a myriad of pinnipeds from harbor seals and Stellar sea lions to even 2 elephant seals. Ollie the sea otter even made an appearance. Birds were in abundance including 2 bald eagles, pigeon guillemots , cormorants, and black oyster catchers. As our time grew short we headed south ever vigilant for any more wildlife that might appear. What a great morning out in the straits of Juan de Fuca.
As we prepared to leave for our afternoon trip we couldn’t help but be excited as the water was glassy flat. It wasn’t long into our trip when the first harbor porpoise made an appearance. We traveled west and found BCY0523 and BCX1251 Orion still hanging out together feeding and showing off their flukes. As we watched we noticed more humpback whales in the distance and we eventually went to check some more out. One of the whales turned out to be BCY0324 Big Mama. It was amazing to see all the exhalations in the distance. Being close to race rocks we took a little break to scope out the action there and found harbor seals with a mom and pup nursing also. Steeler sea lions were abundant as were the seabirds along with one bald eagle. We continued our search and it took us to the far west with reports of lots of humpbacks . As we watched exhalations all around us we had one whale throw a cartwheel and then another breached in the distance. Naturally we headed over to the breaching whale to find out it was none other than BCX1068 Split Fluke and her new 2017 calf who was doing all the breaching while mom ate. We stayed as long as we could watching breach after breach until mom actually came and collected the calf after eating her fill and put and end to the playtime. A long trip out west that was well worth it to see all those humpbacks and great aerial displays.
As soon as the boat got off the dock we decided we were going to head South in hopes of finding the first whales of the day! We made it by Whidbey Island and then heard reports of some Orcas just a few miles up ahead of us! We arrived on scene and saw that the whales we were with were the same Transients we saw yesterday morning, the T46’s! They were cruising at a steady pace as they went along the shore line. We left these whales as we went a tried to find some more wild life and ended up seeing a few looks at a Minke Whale popping up off the bow of the boat. This whale was pretty shy and didn’t hang around very long, so we decided to go see more of those orcas we had earlier because they were heading North towards the dock! We were with the whales for a little while until we had to start making our way back towards the dock!
Headed west through Guemes Channel to Rosario Strait and then southbound in Rosario. Spotted our first whale of the day! A humpback whale who had been pretty erratic before we got there, then began a slowly southbound trek. Fluked a couple of times. Popped up right off the bow, we got to see his blowholes! Then turned north up Rosario Strait to Bellingham channel. Spotted rhinoceros auklets, common murres, pigeon guillemots and cormorants. Off point Lawrence we caught up with some orcas that were hauling northbound, at 7 knots! It was the T46s (T46, T46D, T46E, T46F and T122). They cruised northbound the entire hour plus we were with them! Saw some pretty lucky harbor porpoise, as the whales cruised by them without even looking twice. Nice looks as they headed toward Canada. A lot of quality time with them before heading home. Stopped by peapod rocks and found several harbor seals both hauled out and in the water, numerous black oystercatchers, and four bald eagles! Awesome evening on the water!