Watching the sun set with our guests from the Star Princess (Princess Cruises). http://t.co/HOSPXt2VCT
This morning we had beautiful sunny weather and calm waters as we boarded the Orca Spirit. We left the harbour with the sun warming our vessel and turned left heading east. We traveled past Trial Island, making it to Discovery Island when we noticed small dorsal fins passing the boat. We had found Harbour Porpoises, one of the two kinds of porpoises we have in our area.
A large group of at least fifty porpoises passed the boat on each side, acting much less shy than normal as they jumped along the surface. After trying to catch a few photos of the quick mammals, we headed to the Chain Islands where we found a large group of Harbour Seals laying on the rocks. Not far off of the Chain Islands, we also spotted a bald eagle sitting on a railing, scanning the water for fish. Snapping some photos of the bald eagle, we decided to head west to try our luck on the other side of the harbour. We soon passed Race Rocks Island, continuing south-west and getting closer to the American Olympic Mountains.
About ten minutes later we began to slow down as we had some good news; we had found Humpback Whales! Two humpbacks were traveling together along the Straight, and began to come closer to our vessel. After shutting down our engines we got an amazing sight of the large baleen whales as they came to the surface many times. Humpbacks are known as baleen whales because they do not have teeth, but instead have a baleen they use to strain water out of their mouths while small fish and krill remain inside. We stayed with the big mammals for as long as we could before having to head back to the harbour after a very exciting morning for Orca Spirit.
This afternoon ended up being one of the most exciting whale watching trips of the season so far! We sped our guests out west on the Orca Spirit to look for some humpbacks that we saw in the morning. Guests and crew were not anticipating the excitement that awaited us. We soon spotted 4 humpbacks in two groups of two. To our amazement the humpbacks were feeding!
Feeding behaviour here is almost never seen, in fact both our Captain and Naturalist have never seen this feeding behaviour before in the hundreds of trips that they have done. We were able to watch as the humpbacks broke the surface with huge gaping mouths, full of rows of baleen and closing over massive swarms of tiny fish. We could see the millions of small fish when we looked down into the water and larger fish swimming below them.
One of the greatest moments was when one of the humpbacks opened its mouth wide open when facing our boat and we could see its tongue! The throat pleats of the feeding whales is made of a stretchy fat material that expands out to a gigantic size to allow the whale to consume up to one ton of food a day! Our guests were also thrilled to hear the humpbacks trumpeting, a sound they make through their blowhole. It was one of the most amazing trips I as a naturalist have ever been on. I am so happy we could share this amazing day with our guests.