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July 4, 2011
This afternoon, we headed east aboard the Pacific Explorer and arrived near San Juan Island north of False Bay. Along the way, we enjoyed the scenic vistas of the Olympic Mountain Range, Mount Baker, and even Mount Rainier in the distance. Near San Juan Island, a large group of orcas consisting of members of J,K and a few L-pod orcas were travelling north, foraging in the calm waters. We had a thrilling encounter with K25 (Scoter), a large 18 year-old male in K-pod and watched several other ways travelling slowly near shore. Near the end of our encounter, we spotted a large male that we identified as Onyx (L87) travelling with a couple of other whales. We watched some surface activity, wondering what was going on, when a "sea snake" made an appearance. Onyx was definitely frisky, but the activity was soon over and the whales continued on their way. It was a stellar afternoon of whale watching!
Afternoon Orca Spirit Tour:
What a fantastic day to be on the water! Our boat full of interesting guests left the Victoria Harbour with clear blue skies and water as calm as it can be. It was the first day this season that the Olympic Mountains, Mount Rainier AND Mount Baker were all perfectly visible. It was a great day for scenic pictures! We headed to the southern end of San Juan Island and worked our way north towards Eagle Point. As we traveled along the western banks of the island, we were accompanied by none other than J and K pod ORCAS!! And we must mention L-87 or Onyx, our studly male who is rebelling against L-pod to sway the affection of the ladies from J-pod and K-pod. The whales were in traveling mode at first, swimming at a healthy pace along the shoreline. Then the whales must have come across a school of salmon because the feeding behaviours began! They started to mill around back and forth, chasing salmon below the surface. We saw lots of splashing and tail slaps to stun the fish as the orcas darted in for dinner. Blackberry, or more scientifically known as J-27, was unmistakable with his easy to recognize saddle patch. (You can check out all the unique saddle patches of all the whales on the Centre for Whale Research website: www.whaleresearch.com). Guests and crew were also excited to see some spy-hops, where the orcas lift their heads to scope out their surroundings above the surface. We also had an amazing pass by one of the females in the group, such an awesome experience for everyone! On our way home we stopped by Trial Island to watch a bald eagle perched on a pole. Perfect for the folks from the US celebrating Independence Day! It was a memorable trip for all on board the Orca Spirit!