A Crazy, Hazy Day – Humpbacks, Transients, and a GRAY WHALE!

Port Angeles

9:30 AM

INCREDIBLE MORNING ON THE WATER! Before the tour even began, we spotted a raccoon under the dock and a great blue Herron catching fish! Then with early reports of our resident killer whales heading west, we put the pedal to the metal and cruised toward their location so we could catch them before they were out of range. Across the flat calm strait we had many sightings of harbor porpoise in feeding mode! When we arrived near beachy head, we were treated to a large group of Lpod spread out into several smaller groups. The group included L72, 91, 92, 55, 105, and 5-10 others! We got lots of close passes and fantastic looks! We then turned east to head to race rocks when we were interrupted by a lone GRAY WHALE who was sleepily headed west. What a treat to see a gray whale so out of season! Next we went through race rocks where we saw many stellar sea lions, harbor seals, a mature bald eagle, and a big elephant seal amongst the sea lions! What a beautiful morning!!! 

3:00 PM

Started the trip with glassy seas! After hearing reports of humpbacks across the strait at Constance bank, we headed north while catching great looks of harbor porpoise along the way! When we arrived, it appeared to be a mother and calf who were split up about a quarter mile apart. We got really nice fluke shots of the larger whale but we’re unable to identify the individual. Then out of the blue, the large whale gave a massive full body breach!!! It was amazing! We soon headed west to do some exploring. We went through race rocks where we encountered lots of dueling stellar sea lions, and many harbor seals! We then continued west where we found two humpbacks initially traveling together, but soon splitting off and heading different directions. We followed one east and got great tail shots before turning and heading back to the dock! 

La Conner

It was a hazy and calm day.  We headed south downthe channel. Saw a couple of great blue herons, several Caspian terns, a dozen black oystercatchers, and a couple of bald eagles as we cruised through the channel. Harbor seals hauled out on Strawberry Island. Under the bridge, out toward the strait. Several harbor porpoise throughout our trip. Skirted San Juan Island and headed into Canada to find a humpback whale! He surfaced a couple of times at pretty close range, surprising us all! Some nice looks before we headed into Lopez for lunch. Then we headed south down San Juan Channel for Cattle Pass and back out toward the strait. Continued on our search under the bridge. Found several more bald eagles and gbhs on our trip back through the channel to la Conner.


10:00 AM
Our morning tour enjoyed very calm conditions with just a bit of haze hanging in the air.  We took the scenic inner island route from Anacortes to Haro Strait, going through Pole Pass, a great shortcut to get to Haro Strait.  It was there, between Henry Island and Sidney Island that we encountered a new-to-us humpback whale!  This juvenile had a distinct injury on the left side of his/her fluke that can be used to identify the individual.  We had a few close surfacing and even got to see a “cartwheel” where the whales tail was thrown out of the water with a big splash.  Photos have been sent to a few research organizations, but this may be a new visitor to the Salish Sea!  On the way home we cruised by the north end of Spieden Island where we saw several bald eagles and a few harbor seals as well.  We took Wasp Pass coming home and enjoyed looking at the beautiful homes along the water.  It was a really nice afternoon!

3:30 PM

For our second tour of the day, we took a similar route through Pole Pass.  There were several boats looking for our humpback friend from the morning, but everyone had come up short.  After an extensive search pattern, the Island Explorer 5 earned some major bragging rights by relocating this young humpback near Saltspring Island!  The evening light through the haze was spectacular, creating a shimmery orange glow on the water, AND our humpback whale!  The whale seemed to have grown comfortable with us by the afternoon, coming up regularly quite close to our vessel.  As a finale, we were all treated to a  BREACH in the orange sunlight – fantastic!  On the way home, it was cool enough for the Spieden animals to come out to graze.  We spotted mouflon sheep, sika deer, and fallow deer feeding on the hillside as well as several bald eagle.  So much fun!  

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