The Strait of Juan de Fuca has had extraordinary numbers of humpback whales and sightings of a rare-to-these-waters fin whale. Orcas are active and part of the viewing spectacular! Definitely, local attention has been focused on the waters and the whales.
On a recent whale-watching tour out of Port Angeles, we saw the trifecta! All three species - humpbacks, fin and Orcas. It was an astounding feeling to have possibly two dozen humpbacks surrounding the boat, breaching, and spouting. With the engines off we could hear them nearby when they were spouting.
The fin whale looked rather like a very large brown log floating in the water, until it moved! It was a huge animal. The fin is the second largest whale after the blue whale. The Orcas were feeding, so we missed their usual playful behavior. But, again with the engines off, the Captain lowered a microphone into the water. We heard them talking to one another. Phenomenal!
Here's what the naturalist aboard the ship the day we went had to say about our viewings:
Dozens of Humpbacks
L-Pod Resident Orcas
"The" Fin Whale
What happens when you mix sunny skies, flat seas, snow-capped peaks, and three species of whale? Just another great day at the office with Port Angeles Whale Watch!
The visibility today was phenomenal providing views of both the Olympic mountain range and Mt. Baker of the North Cascades. The humpbacks were up first, with many of the dozens of whales we spotted yesterday still feeding in the area. Notable individuals that could be identified included BCX0298 "Split Fin", BCX1068 "Split Fluke", BCX1193 "Zig Zag", and CS631, but there were many, many more whales spouting and fluking in the distance.
We next got a call of possible killer whales to the northeast so decided to investigate. Sure enough, we arrived to see several members of the Southern Resident L-Pod spread out foraging for salmon. While many of the whales were quite scattered, mom L77 "Matia" and her 4-year old calf, L119 "Joy" stayed nearby for a while. Because it was so calm today, we were able to turn off the engines and drop in the hydrophone to eavesdrop on an orca conversation of whistles and squeals!
It was time to return home, but luckily the route took us right back through humpback territory for an encore presentation. Much to our delight, however, we were treated to our third whale species of the day - the rare fin whale that's been in the area for the last week or two! It doesn't get much better than that! Check out some of the gorgeous photos from today:
: PA Whale Watching
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Port Angeles Whale Watch Company is owned and operated by Island Adventures based out of Anacortes, WA. Island Adventures Whale Watching has been in business since 1992 and has carried hundreds of thousands of satisfied passengers.
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Whales in Strait of Juan de Fuca