Tag Archives: Whales

WHALE WATCHING! Post from Guest Bloggers

Two friends of ours, here on the Olympic Peninsula, submitted a recount of their special day whale watching. We don't know about you, but we want to go, too! From Ali and Brian, hosts at Chito Beach Resort: Having a free day, which we don't get often since we are usually busy with guests, we decided to take full advantage of our time and go out on a whale watching trip. We decided to go from Port Angeles with Port Angeles Whale Watch. The crew of three were fun and accommodating. The crew consisted of the Captain, a marine biologist and the galley chef.  Lucky us to have a biologist on board! He gave us information and updates on all the sea life we saw during the excursion.  The galley chef make hot chocolate, tea and warm food for all those in need. We were indeed spoiled for the day.
brians whales #1

Photos by Brian H Photography

The weather was brian whales #3 brian whales #2perfect and the Captain did a great job navigating us to the whales! We saw several Humpbacks on two occasions and the L pod of Orca, including the newest member- a two-week-old killer whale. We often see whales in the waters off the shore at Chito Beach, but this was so special seeing them from a different perspective. It was a day we'll remember. Here's access to information about the L pod. And a link to the Whale Trail. Chito Beach Resort is one of several accommodations along the Strait of Juan de Fuca. You will find a list of other places to stay beginning on page 31 of the Olympic Peninsula Travel Planner. Whale Watching Tours. Find local whale watching businesses. Make your own special day.  
Olympic Peninsula Whale Tales & Whale Tails A local whale enthusiast recently reawakened our fascination with whales by explaining just how amazing the OP is for whale watching. It’s truly the best spot in the northwest to watch a variety of whales. Seeing these wondrous and mysterious creatures from shore or boat is a memorable, bucket-worthy experience with bragging rights!
polly debari gray whale cape flattery

Gray Whale off Cape Flattery

Gray whales are our day-by-day whale on the shores along the Strait and outer coast. They hug the coastline all the way from Mexico on their way north. A genetically distinct band will peel off from the main route heading to Alaska and turn right into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Here, they feed and forage in the near shore kelp beds and along the sandy bottom during the summer season, or if they are not calving, perhaps all year.  
220px-Humpback_Whale,_blowholes

Humpback Whale

Humpback whales spend the winter months near Hawaii (who doesn’t like that idea?) where they have their young and then head for the Pacific Northwest and northern waters. Again, a distinct group stays near the outer coast of the Olympic Peninsula and in the Strait of Juan de Fuca all summer and into the fall. We don’t see Humpbacks as often from shore because they need deeper water where small fish and krill are found.

A breaching orca. Photo courtesy of NOAA Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary

And then there are the Orcas, of which we have a lot of information. There are three resident pods in Puget Sound. The J, K and L pods are individually named and have generated lots of data, and several lines of plush toys adored by children of all ages. These resident orcas are social and use echo location and sound to locate their favorite food – salmon! One of our favorite foods, too! In addition, transient orcas come through the region in smaller family groups. These silent hunters seek seals for their meals
Minke Whale

Minke Whale

The minke whales are a very fast, smaller whale that not much is known about – yet. We do know that they breathe three to five times at short intervals before they “deep dive” for two to 20 minutes. The deep dives are preceded by a pronounced arching of the whales’ backs. Maximum swimming speed is estimated at about 24 miles per hour.
Whale Trail Kiosk at Freshwater Bay

Whale Trail Kiosk at Freshwater Bay

The Olympic Peninsula is a key player in The Whale Trail, (whaletrail.org) with 15 sites designated as most likely to view whales from shore. NOAA’s Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary (olympiccoast.noaa.gov) includes 2400 square nautical miles and 135 miles of wilderness coastline off the Pacific Coast.  Here, the whales can be seen migrating freely in protected waters. The Makahs are an ancient whaling society, as are most coastal tribes. The Makah Cultural and Resource Center in Neah Bay (makah.com) has excellent interpretations of the importance of the whale to their culture. The Quileute People host an annual Welcoming the Whales Ceremony.  The exact date fluctuates so  plan on visiting in late March to early April for this event.  It was held on April 11 in 2014. (quileutenation.org) READY TO GO?
  • Take a whale watching charter into the San Juan Islands from Port Townsend to see the resident orcas all summer, with trips to see gray whales and the visiting orcas, too. (pugetsoundexpress.com).
  • In the spring, the migration is fun to watch off the coast, particularly at LaPush where the grays tarry and feed with their young.
  • Cape Flattery is a hot spot to watch the grays, and other sea mammals.
  • In August 2014, Port Angeles will welcome an established whale watching company offering daily tours to see humpback whales in the Strait.  Visit pawhalewatch.com to find out more about Port Angeles Whale Watching.
  • It is not unusual to see whales and sea mammals from the Coho Ferry between Port Angeles and Victoria, Canada. (cohoferry.com)
Kinetic 2010 Sally the Map Lady

Kinetic Skulpture Race in Port Townsend

web whale bone

Whale vertebrae sculpture, Port Angeles

Oh, and you can look for representation of whales on land or made by hand, too. The OP has many cultural assets in public art celebrating our affection for whales! Embrace, absorb and share the Olympic Peninsula Whale experience!