July 15, 2018

Anacortes – Port Angeles

Anacortes AM

Incredible whale show today! The trip started off with a stop by Williamson Rocks to check out a bunch of harbor seals hauled out on the beach, including one pup. We then made our way into the Strait of Juan de Fuca to watch two pods of transient (marine mammal eating) whales that were hunting by Smith and Minor Island. They were really active and we saw numerous tail slaps, including one with a perfect shot of Mt Baker in the background. After watching the orcas for a while, we went to check out a bunch of incredibly active sea lions that were lounging on a nearby channel marker. They kept fighting with one another over a napping spot on the marker. We then journeyed back to the orcas, and wow, what a show. They were in the pursuit of a minke whale in the area. All the whales were traveling full speed ahead, at about 12 knots, and were porpoising out of the water every time. After no success, the orcas gave up and began hunting seals or sea lions in the area again. Truly and amazing encounter.



Anacortes PM

Gorgeous weather and beautiful views while watching whales today! Our trip started out by heading into the San Juan Islands, between Cypress and Blakeley Island, and up beside the Eastern side of Orcas Island, to Peapod Rocks. There were a bunch of harbor seals hauled out on the beach, including one pup, and two bald eagles perched on the “National Wildlife Refuge” sign. After that, we ventured closer to Canadian territories, off the coast of Ewing Island, to check out two bald eagle’s nests and then finally into Canadian waters, by Active Pass, to watch a pod of Resident (fish eating) orcas. The pod was identified as the J pod; the lineage of orcas related to granny (the oldest living orca). We watched them as they hunted fish for a while, with a perfect shot of Mt Baker in the background. After that, we started our journey back to port alongside Lummi Island.

– Emma



Port Angeles AM

Had an awesome day out on the water! Another smooth, crystal clear was perfect for whale watching and we were rather successful! We left port following report of humpback whales handing out near Beach Head, so we started our day heading westward up the Juan de Fuca. Once out there we bumped into Divot and the calf, and got some looks at the baby that we have never seen before! Divot and the calf were swimming lazily along, and the calf got curious enough to give us a little spyhop….we actually saw his cute little face! We enjoyed these whales for a while, and then headed eastward towards Race Rocks. While in route we ended up seeing a Minke whale out and about! This guy was swimming along the tide line feeding, and gave us some really good looks. We then made it to Race Rocks, and were pleased to see various pinnepeds (Harbor Seals, Elephant Seals and Stellar Sealions!) as well as Ollie the Otter. We got some great shots out there and headed back to Port Angeles. On our way out we ran into another whale, identified as “Scratchy” enjoying himself along that tide line as well. All in all, it was a great day!



Port Angeles PM

Another beautiful afternoon in the Salish Sea! We headed eastwards of whale reports near Crescent Bay so we headed on down, feeling some fun little rollers on th way out! After going a ways, about a half hour, we had a VERY unusual sighting…. one lone sea otter floating out in the strait! This little furry thing was hanging out on a clump of kelp, and let us take a couple minutes for some good shots. We did get some pictures to send to researchers in the area. We were so excited!!! We enjoyed the Olympic views for a while, then decided to head west across the strait towards Race Rocks. Not so unexpectedly, we found our humpback friends out there. We really were swimming in whale soup there for a while, with whales surfaces on all sides. We did connect with Divot and the baby one more time, as well as identify one other humpback as “Stitch”. Since we were just east of Race Rocks we went on over to explore. We got a bit of a mix up in presence of pinnipeds, this time we saw Harbor Seals, Steller sea lions AND California sea lions! We also saw one of the bald eagles that wasn’t present this morning, and Ollie the Otter wasn’t around this time! Always interesting to see how wildlife changes throughout the day! It was a beautiful afternoon, and a great trip.




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July 11, 2018


Double header today!! Two different species of whales in one trip! Our trip started off with a stop at a channel marker to check out a Steller sea lion snoozing on top. We then made our way over to Bird Rocks to check out all the harbor seals hauled out on the beach during the extremely low tide. Our journey then continued on to Smith and Minor Island. There were two adult and four juvenile eagles hanging out on the beach, as well as a mom and pup harbor seal. After that, we watched a humpback named Scratchy. Scratchy was showing tail every time and taking really short dives. After watching the humpback for a while, we went back over to Smith and Minor Island where we saw a tufted puffin. Our journey then continued on to Hein Bank to watch several minke whales feed and then off to a quick stop at Deception Pass bridge on our way back to port.

Clear skies and calm seas as we left Cap Sante Marina this afternoon. We started off the trip with a stop at Bird Rocks. Here we found nesting glaucous-winged gulls and double-crested cormorants, and several mom and pup harbor seal pairs. We also spotted some harbor porpoise foraging in the current lines. From here we cruised south towards Smith Island. We made a stop at Minor Island where we found many more habor seals, two mature bald eagles, three juvenile bald eagles, and so many double-crested cormorants. The eagles were picking at something dead on the beach, but the driftwood prevented us from confirming what was on the menu. We made our way all the way to Port Townsend where we found our first whale of the day, a mature humpback! It was cruising swiftly northwards, leaving a prominent footprint as it went. The evening sun illuminated its spouts brilliantly, turning the mucus into rainbows as it dissipated. We left this whale to venture northwards where another humpback had been spotted. It turned out to be Scratchy! As always, Scratchy was all over the place, and not keeping to any sort of rhythmic pattern, making its surfacings a bit harder to time. In the end, we did manage to get a good fluke from Scratchy, and with that we made our turn towards home. Along the way, we stopped for tufted puffins at Smith Island, and even took a scenic detour to Deception Pass since the evening lighting was too beautiful to pass up.

Port Angeles

AM tour:
What an unbelievably beautiful day it’s been! We had a flat calm, sunny day with lots of wildlife and fantastic visibility.We had a really nice ride out from the harbor, and were all enjoying the sun on the way out to our whale sightings. We headed westward toward Race Rocks, since we have been seeing soooooo many humpbacks in this area lately, and we were not disappointed! We were met with Divot and the calf, and we really enjoyed watching these too meander side by side for a while. We decided to pass through Race Rocks while we were in the area, and had an AWESOME view of Ollie the Otter, as well as of many birds and harbor seals….and we got a glimpse of that Elephant Seal who has been claiming the side of the boat ramp as his own. After some great view there we stuck our nose out into the strait and headed in the direction of Port Angeles, making sure to keep our eyes out for more whales on the way back. We did find another feeding humpback whale who we did not identify, but we enjoyed watching this whale swimming around in the currents. Couldn’t have asked for a better day!

PM tour:
Everybody was in high spirits as we left the harbor today, but then again its hard not to be when the water is as smooth as silk! We had unbelievable views as we cruised west down the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and actually hugged the Olympic Pen coastline instead of the Vancouver coastline this time….it was gorgeous! We got some really beautiful looks at the Crescent Bay area, and just sort of got a look at the strait from a different perspective than usual! We headed out this way looking for humpbacks, but spent most of that time just taking in the landscape. We then decided to cross over the strait towards Race Rocks, to go see the wildlife over there. We caught up with Ollie again, who was actually more active than I’ve ever seen him. It seemed like he was taking a little bath, rolling himself around in the water and rubbing his face….too cute! The bull kelp out there is really growing fast, and the harbor seals as well as the otter are getting all up in it! Almost as soon as we departed RR and headed a bit northeast, we found ourselves in some thick humpback soup! We were completely surrounded by humpbacks feeding in the rip currents, and had an awesome time looking and taking photos…. many of the passengers assisted in referencing the photo ID guides! While there were at least 7 or 8 whales present, we took the time to identify two as “Hemlock” and “Lyra”. It really was a great day!

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June 8, 2018

Anacortes AM 

Anacortes PM

This afternoon we started off our tour heading North towards some whales two hours off the dock. As we were cruising North towards these whales, we stopped around Pea Pod rocks where we saw harbor seals and a bald eagle on top of the navigation marker. We then continued North all the way North of Active Pass where we arrived on scene with over a dozen killer whales! They were spending tons of time out on the surface where they were tail slapping, spy hopping and breaching! The whales were very active but as time passed, we had to make our way back towards Anacortes… until we heard report of two humpbacks just up a couple minutes away! We went and saw them fluke a couple of times until we had to wave goodbye and make our way back to the dock! It was an amazing trip on a not so amazing weather day, which just goes to show that whales can be found rain or shine!:)

– Clare

Port Angeles

We had such a wonderful humpback-y time today! We were only out of the harbor for maybe 15 minutes before a passenger made our first whale sighting (likely HB) that McKenna also saw, but this whale didn’t resurface within sight again. We waited on it for a bit while Nate gathered intel on other humpback sightings up near the rock pile. We headed up that way and were met with a nice long humpback feeding show. We saw everything! Lunge-feeding, pectoral fin slaps, lobbing, splashes and tail flukes upon tail flukes. Our passengers were so excited and really played a big role in spotting whales today! After spending quite a bit of time wandering through the Rock Pile area (there were up to 8 humpbacks recorded in this area today!) we took a jaunt up to Race Rocks and saw our California Sealions and one half of the Bald Eagle mated pair. It was a full day of wildlife today, and our passengers were happy and excited when we returned and appeared to have a great time despite of the rain that made it over to us on the way back.

Thanks a bunch!

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May 12, 2018


With hardly a cloud in the sky, we left the dock in search of wildlife. Mount Baker was looming over the island waterways today, its snow-capped peak gleaming in the midday sun. We started our journey with a stop at Bird Rocks where we found two Steller sea lion bulls sunbathing, and a mature bald eagle perched. We continued south to Smith and Minor Islands. Two mature bald eagles towering over the nesting double-crested cormorants on Minor Island, and not far away a group of harbor seals were inching their way up the beach. We made our way down to Partridge Bank where we were in for quite a treat, a feeding frenzy of minke whales!!! We estimated that there were likely around ten different minkes present, an unusually large gathering for this solitary species of whale. They wowed us with up close looks as they lunge fed right off the bow of the boat. We also got a first-hand understanding of how they earned the nickname “stinky minkes”, as we traveled through clouds of their breath mid feeding session. We stayed with these whales for quite some time as they swam circles over the bank, taking out every bait ball in sight. Then it was time to head north. On the way, we stopped at the west side of Smith Island where we found some tufted puffins! Next, we stopped at Whale Rocks where some rowdy Steller sea lions were vying for position on the rocks, and then we cut through the inner islands until we reached the Peapods. Here we found many harbor seals perched high upon the exposed rocks, three more bald eagles, a great blue heron, and a flock of black oyster catchers. We rounded the east side of Cypress Island, passing the beautiful Cone Islands as we made our way back home.

Port Angeles

What a magnificent opening​ day we had in Port Angeles. The sun was shining , it was warm and the water was flat as glass. We had excellent views of the Olympic Mountains as we headed out of the harbor, passing by many different seabirds as we ventured out to the Straits of Juan de Fuca. Mount Baker was clearly visible in the distance. We headed east searching along the way seeing lots of Rhinocerous Auklets here for nesting season along with a myriad of Glaucous Winged Gulls. Harbor porpoise were spotted not too far out. We searched and continued eastward and we heard a report of whales feeding not too far away. A smattering of Common Murres were also seen.

When we arrived at our destination we found not one, not two , not three Minkes whales but at least six all zigzagging around as they fed on small baitfish. It was quite exciting as we never knew where they would pop up and many times they came right over and even under the boat. There were a few times we were even lucky to be able to see the white bands on their pectoral fins. Minkes are notorious for being quick and elusive but today they put on a spetacular show as they fed with 4 Minkes coming up together one right after the other next to each other. It is always great to see Minkes and help researchers to get idenitities of these elusive and little known species.
We spent a beautiful day with all the whales , tons of birds and baitballs , even having a harbor seal show up not far from the boat but eventually we had to say goodbye and we left them to their dinner. The wildlife sightings weren’t over as we had a Steller Sea Lion show up also chowing down on some hapless fishas gulls tried to snatch his meal.
Mount Rainier even made an appearance today .We took a swing by The New Dungeness Lighthouse in Sequim as we headed home and enjoyed the sunny afternoon out on the Salish Sea. A great way to Start our Port Angeles season.

La Conner

The day started off spectacularly well as we left the dock in La Conner and headed down the channel. Our first wildlife came in the form of a turkey vulture soaring around Shelter bay, but it definitely was only the beginning of things to come. As we rounded the bend by “Hole in the wall” we came across a black tail deer swimming across the channel. Just as it was climbing out of the water a curious harbor seal swam by to investigate the deer. It was a phenomenal sight to see and had us all very excited on board the Island Explorer 4. Continuing down the channel we spotted many great blue herons, an osprey and even a few bald eagles. From there we headed north toward Deception pass and the Straight of Juan de Fuca. Before leaving the inside of Whidbey we dropped our research crab pot and then continued on our search. We headed from the pass, over to Lopez island for a nice slow cruise by castle rock and into McCardle bay. Here we had nice looks at an eagles nest and even had one fly by the boat as we left the bay. Our journey then took us to whale rocks where we got to see a nice group of Steller sea lions hauled out and warming up in the hot mid day sun. We then got a call from some friends to the south so Captain Tyler cruised down to Partridge bank where we got mugged by a group of lunge feeding minke whales!!!! It was so awesome to see these, typically calm giants, going gangbusters on all the bait balls forming around us. We got great looks at multiple minkes, as they were lunge feeding all around our boat!!! After a while the minkes and their food dispersed so we decided to continue onward. We did a nice search of Admiralty Inlet but came up empty handed and then turned north. We got to Smith Island and Minor Island and spotted a nice group of harbor seals on the beach. There were also two mature bald eagles on the old Lighthouse on Minor Island. We got a little treat just west of Smith Island; two tufted puffins were swimming around fishing a ways off the shoreline. We got great looks before heading back toward La Conner. Our crab pot turned out to have a decent catch in it and we gave our passengers a thrill as they were able to hold the crabs or pet them before we released them back into the wild. All in all in was a perfect day out on the water and everything seemed to line up perfectly!!!!

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May 3, 2018


The day began as most beautiful days do, with a warm morning and the sun burning away much of the cloud coverage. After we left the marina we headed down Guemes channel and westward toward the San Juan’s. We turned north in Rosario and headed toward North Peapod rocks for our first slow up of the trip. As we traveled along in Rosario we were joined by the occasional group of harbor porpoise feeding in the fast currents of the ebb tide. When we got to north Peapod we found two mature bald eagles perched on a navigation marker. All around the island dozens of seabirds circled on the search for food and dozens of harbor seals were in the water doing the same. From there Captain Carl took us north on our search for the illusive whales. Passing through the Sister islands we saw a nice big group of harbor seals hauled out on the rocks. We got some great looks before continuing north. We began to head toward a possible report of some animals but a call from some friends had us change course for some orcas not far away. We joined up with the Orca whales at east point on Saturna island and it turned out to be a group of transient orca whales. They were in an area rich with Steller sea lions and we began to wonder what carnage may unfold should these whales get hungry. The whales did not seem to concerned with food as they did pass a few sea lions on a few longer dives, but soon things changed. A large group of seals was rafting out in a current line not paying attention to the orcas in the area. This gave the orcas a chance to sneak up on them and give them quite a scare. The whales surfaced only a few yards from the sea lions and when the Steller’s noticed the orcas they came over and hid right next to our boat!!!! It was amazing to see these animals so close as they were crawling all over each other to escape the orca whales. The whales however had some other plans at this time and continued northward away from the Steller sea lions. We moved back over to the orcas and bid our sea lion friends farewell. We end up getting some more great looks at the orcas as they were headed north but as always time ran out and so we had to head home. On our return trip, we enjoyed beautiful views of the outer islands and even found another bald eagle on the north-east side of Guemes island. It was a spectacular day today on the Salish sea, one that will stick with me for life!!!

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May 2, 2018


We’re in our last week of Gray Whale trips here in Everett, but the whale activity hasn’t slowed a bit. We saw a total of five Grays on our trip this morning, and a whole array of behaviors from them. As we cruised past Jetty Island, we visited with one of the ospreys that was tending its nest, a few juvenile bald eagles perched upon the driftwood, a large number of terns scanning for fish around the boat, and a couple of the different species of cormorants that can be found here in the Salish Sea. It was an epic, wildlife start to the trip, and the action didn’t slow. First we came across two Grays cruising south of Hat Island. It was Patch and Little Patch. They crossed paths briefly, and continued on their own separate journeys. Little Patch offered us amazing views of his fluke repeatedly throughout the morning, and Patch surprised us by surfacing amazingly close to the boat, showing off his massive frame. We came across Lucyfer not long after. He left us sitting in a vile cloud of whale breath, and then showed us an example of typical foraging behavior. We left Lucy to see who/what else we could find, and stumbled upon Shackleton! He was making his way steadily south from Camano Head, never lifting his fluke as he zigzagged across the channel. As we made our way towards Camano Head to see if we could find any raptors, we came across ANOTHER WHALE. They must have wanted all the spotlight today. We cruised with #531 as she raced north up the west side of Camano at an impressive 6 knots an hour. She’d give us a powerful fluke shot and then resurface less than a minute after. She was easily traceable, as we could see the shadow of her full length beneath the surface throughout the encounter. It was an impressive display of power and strength. 


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April 23, 2018


We departed Anacortes on a sunshine filled Monday. As we made our way out of the marina, we got a quick glance at a river otter and then a common loon just below Cap Sante lookout.

We headed north up bellingham channel towards some early morning reports that were coming in. As we headed north, we were treated to magnificent views of the cascade mountains in the background. On our way north, we stopped at the three sisters islands, where we found lots of harbor seals, a bald eagle, Bonaparte’s gulls, Canada geese, and pigeon guillemonts. Lots of wildlife out showing itself today!

We continued north, where we passed the border, and eventually just passed Point Roberts, we found a group of killer whales! It turned out to be the T36A family. Right as we were getting on scene, we got an awesome spyhop from one of the younger whales. We got a great show from the 36A’s, and at one point, it appeared they had some lunch. After this, we turned back to the south, where we aimed back for the United States. But not before, a short distance later, we found a humpback whale! Just like that, it was a doubleheader, we got some good looks at this whale, sending its flukes high up and out of the water multiple times.

After spending some time with the humpback, we continued to the south. We stopped at Ewing island, where we found lots of Steller sea lions hanging out. From here, we enjoyed a wonderful cruise back into Anacortes.



The sun was shining, and the wind mild as we left the dock this morning. It was such a peaceful morning out on the Sound, the water was glassy and the visibility remarkable, so spotting conditions were ideal. As we cruised by Jetty Island we stopped to visit with an osprey perched in its nest, we’re hoping to see a hatchling any day now. Just south of the osprey were two mature bald eagles perched beside each other on the driftwood. We spotted several juvenile bald eagles along the jetty as well. It was Raptors galore. Not sighting any activity around Hat Island, we made our way north up Saratoga Passage. A fellow captain had given us a heads up that a lone gray was traveling north, so we went to see who it was. It was none other than Dubnuck, one of the original Puget Sounders! He was blazing a steady trail northward, giving us beautiful looks of his fluke each time he sounded. He took us all the way up to the shallows of west Cameno Island, just south of Cameno Island State Park. This is where Dubnuck showed us just how remarkable the feeding strategies of the Puget Sounders can be. In only 10 feet of water, he proceeded to roll on his side, both fluke and left pec fin held high above the waterline as he stirred up the sediment looking for lunch. It was incredible to watch as he thrashed around, showing us not only fins but his round belly too! Being able to see the whales full length like we did, it drives home how big these mammals are. We were so wrapped up in this incredible encounter that we nearly lost track of time, so when we left Dubnuck to finish up his forage fest we booked it back to the dock, soaking up the sun on the gorgeous cruise home.

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April 22, 2018


 We got some much needed vitamin D today. The sun was shining and the wind mild. As we turned the corner at Cap Sante lookout, Captain Carl spotted six Turkey vultures gathered on the rockside! There must have been food in the area to see so many concentrated like that. With no reports to begin the trip with, we tried our luck and turned north up Rosario Strait. We stopped at the Peapods to see what we could find. Sure enough, harbor seals were hauled out in droves, a Canada goose was foraging in the water, a great blue heron took flight over the islands, and two bald eagles perched high upon the rocks. We continued northward, cruising by a massive gathering of Bonaparte gulls diving into a bait ball at the eastern most point of Orcas Island. We stopped at Sucia Island to check out the brawling Steller sealions hauled out on the coastline. A bald eagle was perched high in the treetops above them. We continued north up the Strait of Georgia and met up with humpback whale “Zigzag” (BCX1193) north of Tumbo Island. This whale was aptly named, zigzagging all over the strait in a rather erratic fashion. We got some beautiful looks at its fluke and dorsal fin as it sounded. In the midst of all the whale action, we were all given even more reason to celebrate as a proposal took place on the bow! She said yes! It seemed that Zigzag felt like celebrating too because just as we were turning to depart, it started pec slapping over and over and over again! Truly, it just kept going, there must have been at least 20 slaps before it would stop to breath and then continue again. Unreal. A memorable trip indeed. 


Morning –– 10 AM

The day started off beautifully with blue skies and the sun warming the area quickly. We left the dock and headed up Jetty island to check out a local Osprey nest. The ospreys were home and we got some amazing looks at them as we made the turn to head around Jetty island. As we cruised back down Jetty island we found a bald eagle on one of the pilings before continuing out to open water. We found our first whales just off the south end of Hat island and we got some amazing looks as the whales socialized in the area. The whales turned out to be 383 and 49 Patch and we got a great show from them both. 383 was more than happy to show us his flukes and just before we departed the scene even Patch showed his flukes to us. From there we headed up in Port Susan and found another bald eagle perched along the hillside waiting for some fish. We left the eagle to it’s hunting and traveled down around Camano Head. We headed up Saratoga Passage and just a little north of Langley we found a gray whale feeding in the shallows. This whale put on a great show with multiple feedings and after some close looks we were able to determine it was 723 Lucifer. Time unfortunately ran out and we had to head back but all and all it was an amazing adventure on the water this morning.

Afternoon –– 2 PM

This evenings weather was absolutely stunning. As we left the dock a slight breeze kicked up and brought in a slight chill but it soon died off leaving behind gorgeous blue skies. We left the dock and went north up Jetty island to investigate our local Osprey. Both birds were home in the nest and gave us some great looks at a mating display. It didn’t last long as a bald eagle came into the area and one Osprey moved off to defend its territory. The ordeal didn’t last long before the Osprey went and landed on a piling to rest. Continuing down Jetty island we found another bald eagle having issues with the local birds. It was an immature eagle and it was being heavily harassed by a small bird. It was a great start and from there we continued out into the open waters. As we traveled along our trip took us north in search of whales and it didn’t take long until Captain Nate found our first one. It was 383 and he was headed north in Saratoga passage very quickly. We moved on scene and began getting some great looks as he travelled along and was showing off some great flukes. We followed him just a ways north of Camano Head and got some amazing looks before Nate found us a second whale. It turned out to be CR185 and it was traveling north very close to shore. As we got on scene 185 moved off shore and came out to visit us. We got some amazing looks and the whale even began logging at the surface for a while. Time ran short again and so we traveled back to the south. As we passed between Camano Island and Hat island some splashing caught our eye and we went to investigate. It was a large California sea lion tear apart a small dog fish. It didn’t take long as the sea lion was thrashing heavily back and forth and really going at it with the dog fish. Once the sea lion realized we were watching he quickly swallowed the rest of the dogfish whole!!! After that captain Nate came in clutch one more time for us and spotted the blows of another whale. When we got on scene we got some very great looks at what turned out to be two whales. The whales were 53 and 22 and we got some very close views and even got to enjoy a few good WiFi’s of whale breath. Once again time ran short and we had to return to the dock. It was a perfect day on the water and a magnificent experience with all the wild life in the area!!!

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April 16, 2018


Calm seas and overcast skies greeted us as we pulled away from the dock this morning. On our cruise out of the Marina, we stopped to visit with some rather sleepy California sea lions who were hauled out on the aquatic fencing. We continued west towards Hat Island where we saw our first spout of the day, but we continued north towards Langley in search of more whales that had been reported earlier that morning. Sure enough, we met Sounder #531 sleeping just south of Camano Head, and two other grays (Little Patch and another unknown individual) swimming side by side towards Langley. We got some fun up close looks at all three of these individuals as they cruised through the placid waters of Saratoga Passage. Once we left Little Patch and his friend, we met back up with #531 who gave us a magnificent up close look at her fluke. We also spotted two mature bald eagles perched along the shoreline of Cameno Head. On the return trip home we circled back to find that first spout we had spotted. It turned out to be Patch foraging near Hat Island. We said hello to our sealion friends as we made our way back towards the dock, their numbers had grown some in the past few hours, and they greeted us with a cacophony of barks. All-in-all, a calm and peaceful morning out on Puget Sound. 

– Sam

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April 10, 2018


In typical Northwest fashion, the weather showed us all sides of “Spring in the Salish Sea” within the course of three hours. A drizzling rain greeted us as we arrived on the dock this morning, with overcast skies as far as the eye could see. Before we even cast off, we’d spotted our first wildlife of the day. Three bald eagles perched along Jetty Island, and two mature osprey perched in their nest atop one of the nearby pilings. They stayed huddled together in their nest while two of the mature bald eagles took of soaring, weaving amongst each other in an aerial dance before touching back down at their respective perches. Having gotten our fill of raptors, we continued south, making our way out of the marina. As we cruised by the aqua-fence lining the Naval Base, several vocal California sealions came into view, heads held high as they barked their greeting. We continued west towards Hat Island, just as we were about to turn south in search of whales, we spotted several spouts to our north. It was three foraging gray whales! Patch, Little Patch, and Earhart of the Sounders were all present. We made time to visit with all of them in turn as they spread out to feed throughout the shallows. A few times, they surprised us by surfacing right beside us after an extended dive, allowing everyone gorgeous looks at their patchy coloration. Throughout this time, the wind had picked up markedly, stirring up the brilliant turquoise waters of the Puget Sound, and we watched as the rains we’d been in blew north to reveal blue skies and incredible views of the snow capped Olympics. We turned north, riding the waves as we made our way to the southern most point of Cameno Island in our search for more wildlife. When it came to turn back towards home, we all stepped inside as mother nature continued to show us all her shades, throwing spray up over both decks as we turned to cut into the whitecaps that were now spreading across Sarstoga Passage. We stopped for another visit with one of the gray whales we’d seen earlier on our return trip home, and waved hello to the California sea lions as we passed back into the sheltered waters of the Everett marina. By the time we made it back to the dock, there was no rain to be seen, the sun was shining down, and the scattered clouds overhead whipped by as they were blown north with the growing wind. Welcome to springtime in Puget Sound.


What a difference a few hours can make when it comes to weather in Washington! We left the dock as if we were heading into a winter storm, with blustery winds and steady rain and returned to the calm seas and sunny skies of a summer day! Our adventure began with a thorough search of Guemes Channel and a turn to the north in Rosario Strait. A stop at Peapod Rocks yielded a nearly mature bald eagle (perhaps a third-year bird), several harbor seals, and a few pairs of Canada geese. North of Orcas Island, between Barnes and Matia, Captain Carl used his eagle eyes to spot a few Dall’s porpoise racing in the waves. Then it was onward to Ewing Island where we found dozens of grumbling Steller sea lions and a mated pair of bald eagles. We continued to circumnavigate Orcas Island by heading south down President’s Channel and through Pole Pass, then out through Thatcher, across Rosario, up Bellingham Channel, and toward Lummi Island, leaving stone unturned in our search. After a stop at Viti Rocks for more harbor seals, it was back to Cap Sante where the excitement all began. Sadly despite everyone onboard pitching in, we weren’t able to encounter any whales today, but we’re looking forward to seeing everyone on a future tour of their choice, free of charge, until we see those whales!

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