Monday, July 7, 2014

2014 Summer Solstice Orcas Whale Watch

Lia scheduled a Orca Whale watch tour for us out of Deer Harbor, again we looked forward to returning to one of the marinas where we stayed when we chartered a boat to sail the San Juans.

The Transient docks were nearly empty, the Summer Cruising Season starts July 4th

The Whale Watch Operators were excited to tell us that K pod was meeting up with J and L pod today so we would get a special treat and see almost 90 whales all together meeting like the first day of school.

we got there early so I wondered around taking pics of cool wooden vessels.

Thats the Marina Store

Always row boats about, you see locals using these as little commuters and work boats, I wondered why you do not see so many people rowing along the Gulf coast and remembered it is just to hot, better to use a outboard so you can go fast and create some breeze!

All the harbors have lots of private mooring bouys.

Thats our Whale watch vessel on the other side of the Island Packet.

I think this is the vessel we will be sailing on tomorrow for the Day sail our daughter scheduled for us all.

Lots of small passages to get out to the San Juan Channel

This vessel can make 11-13 knots, and up to 17 with a favorable current.

A popular rock ledge to view local Seabirds on the South East end of San Juan Island

Another whale Watch tour about to pass us.

This was our location at first sightings of the J,K, and L Pods

Way in the distance you could see their huge fins, the skipper slowed to a crawl.

Nice day to be on a boat in the Straight of Juan De Fuca as it is very calm, These Seas can get just as wild as the open North West Pacific 

We learned from our previous whale watch trips to put the camera down and just enjoy the whales since it is so difficult to get a shot, but this time there were so many so close we tried for a while.

Everyone saw at least one breach during the trip there were so many.

This is the Famous Orca Researcher Kenneth Balcomb out checking on the whales, it is like they knew him and followed him. See!staff/cyhe

Their Dorsal fins are Huge!

Several just feet away

Lots of Tail flapping.

Did not matter where you were on the boat you got to see plenty of wahle action on this trip.

Looking out the Strait towards the  Pacific Ocean, Lot of Water!

I think these guys are crabbing but it is hundreds of feet deep here?

Not uncommon to see a tall ship sailing around here.

Friday Harbor, that's the Victoria Clipper on the left, we did three whale watch trips on that vessel.

Entering the narrow pass to Deer Harbor 

That's Turtle Back Mountain just behind Deer Harbor

Cruisers up here prefer sailboats or Trawlers, and no Light Displacement vessels at all.

Harbors like this make you want to visit all the rest up here.

2014 Summer Solstice Orcas Whale Watch

As a gift from our Lia and Russell we went on a whale watch tour out of Deer Harbor.  The Admiral loves these trips, This one was a Serendipitous for several reasons, the perfect weather, and a uncommon gathering of all three resident pods J, K, and L all in one place providing the opportunity to see nearly 90 whales. The naturalist told us it was like a big greeting ceremony sort of like the first day of school when everyone returns and gets together.
All the whale watch boats are in constant communication so everyone knows exactly where the whales are and there we lots of vessels in about a 2 mile diameter circle area where all the whales were. These vessels have to stay a designated distance away from the whales but they turn their engines off and drift so if you drift in among the whales that's OK but you have to wait till you drift out before starting the engines. as a result we drifted right into the mix and their were lots of whales on all sides of the vessel so everyone on board got to see one or more breaches, lots of tail flapping, lots of baby and mom pairs, large groups surfacing together.
Ken Balcomb, a well known Pacific Northwest Whale researcher who we had the pleasure of attending one of his Whale Seminars recently in Seattle just happened to be out at the same time observing the whales. The naturalist on board immediately recognized him and pointed out the small vessel they were in. After watching the small research vessel it was like the whales were coming up to him to greet him. Not sure  if we will do any more Whale Watch tours to see the Orcas after this one since it would be hard to beat this experience. We do keep up with the Orca activity in the area from the local Orca group on Facebook which updates the goings on with J,K, and L pods almost daily. These resident whales have been the primary stimulus for the reduction in pollution in Puget Sound. The ongoing research points directly at sources of pollution that affects the well being of these incredible animals and since they have become the poster child of the PNW it has raised awareness enough that the whole region is on-board for eliminating pollution in these waters

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