Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A Whale of a Trip!

We took a trip out of Port Townsend today, a whale watch that offers two options--all day for 88.00 a person, with a two hour stop off in Friday Harbor in the San Juan Islands, (lunch on your own) or a 4 hour trip which was slightly more which guarantees orca whale sightings. We thought the stop off in the San Juan Islands plus the opportunity of both morning and afternoon sightings might be the better deal and it was a little cheaper. We picked a perfect day, sunny, no clouds in the skies. The waters were relatively calm in the Puget Sound and it was a great ride out and back.

Captain Matt (thank God it wasn't Captain Bob! see yesterday's post...) did a great job of telling us about the whales. He had two assistants, Liz and Lilly that helped give us information as well. Unfortunately, the sound system on the ship is not the best, and if you are outside on the ship, watching for whales, it's hard to understand almost anything anybody in charge says.

Did we see whales? Does a bear shit in the woods? (Yep! We've seen it!) We saw pod J, one of three pods that can be seen in the area. There were about twenty whales in this pod, babies, moms, and big daddies. The males' dorsal fins can be up to six feet tall! Wow! We saw some big fins today...they weren't really close except for one. That was totally unexpected as the boats have to be more than 200 yards away from a known traveling pod. Sometimes one will surface close to a boat and there's nothing they can do about it at the moment. Should you position yourself too close to the pod, the Puget Sound "police" (Puget Sound Watch) are right in the area monitoring the tourist boat positions and will come and warn or fine you. We saw them get after a small fishing boat that was hanging out in the wrong place. The captain's responsibility is to keep his ship out of the way of the pod and not hang out in the middle of the action.
Look, ma, no hands!
We saw the babies horsing around, spy hopping (coming straight up out of the water) flip flopping their tails, and showing off for us. Sorry this little guy was so far away and not a big enough zoom to bring him in!

Eldy saw two breeches with adult orcas. I was either fiddling with my camera, looking the wrong way, or in the "head". That's ship talk for the BATHROOM. By the way, we got quite the speech on proper head etiquette, just in case we didn't know what to put down the toilet or how to flush it.

The pod was traveling rapidly through our area, so the action was fast and furious for a short period of time. The boat captains are talking to one another, so it wasn't long before we had a whole  fleet of various sized boats and ships in a circle in the area making the most of the orca show. We were told today that orcas are not really whales. They are a member of the porpoise family! Guess that "killer whale" thing is a little misleading. The orcas that are not in a pod, that are sort of "rogue" or transient whales, do prey on sea lions and harbor seals in different areas, but these orcas are feeding on the salmon.....

We enjoyed our trip stop at Friday Harbor, but there's really not much to see in town. All the neat restaurants and shops are within one block of the ferry landing and tour boat dock. There are a lot of great choices to choose from. We chose a crab shack for burgers and fries and then walked around a bit. You can rent kayaks here to go out in the islands, or you can shop at some of the boutiques in town, but there really wasn't much past the first block of town to see or explore. We were finished looking with about another hour still to kill before hopping back on the boat to head back to Port Townsend.

We were really lucky to have another whale sighting, a real whale sighting on the way back. A minke whale was spotted, and I got a photo of the whale plus a rare view of Mount Ranier at the same time. The scenery was fantastic, the weather VERY brisk out on the water, downright cold. Jackets and/or warm hats are highly recommended. Even though it was a balmy seventy degrees plus in Friday Harbor, it was really cold out on the boat. Glad we dressed appropriately and are thinking LAYERS in this weather on the coast and on the waters of the bays. We always keep lightweight jackets and sweatshirts in the car now, for the variable weather that this area gets. They use to say in Indiana, if you don't like the weather, wait a minute and it will change...well, it's much more true in Oregon and Washington on the coast and bays. It can be raining in one town, and sunny in the next. Go a few miles and you are in the "rain shadow" of the Olympic Mountains and it's dry. Go a little further and the rainfall is much more persistent.....Whatever the weather here, it's wonderful!  We loved our trip today out on the water........
We want to wish everyone a happy fourth of July and hope their day was a wonderful one....We watched the fireworks celebration on PBS this evening from Washington, D.C. What an amazing display! Maybe some day we'll be there on July 4th... It would be a crazy time with all those people but the most amazing thing to see, we can only imagine!  See you tomorrow.....

1 comment:

  1. We sure enjoyed your whale watching blog today... we put that on our list of things to do when we get out that way someday. GREAT shots!

    Karen and Steve
    (Our Blog) RVing: Small House... BIG Backyard