Our son and daughter-in-law gave us the gift of a whale watching tour for our 50th anniversary - last September. Since the weather was not spectacular and the days were getting shorter we decided to wait until June of this year to take the tour - when the weather was better and besides - June is one of the best months for spotting whales in the Salish Sea (the islands and channels from British Columbia down to the bottom of Puget Sound).
The Salish Sea
Our tour boat - we sat on the back deck (far left in the photo). Much better view than inside on the the cramped seats
Look at all the windows - the houses facing the marina.
We left at 1:30 out of Anacortes (1 hour drive from Bellingham) - with the recommended snack and water packed in our bag. All the tours out of British Columbia had been cancelled that day so there were no boats up that way to let the captain of our boat know of any whales that had been sighted - so we headed down toward Puget Sound - 50 mph in the sunshine and fairly smooth seas. There were 2 foot - then three foot and finally 5 foot swells. The boat took the seas well - even at 50 mph.
Our route out of Anacortes - the most whales were spotted near the next to the last arrow at the bottom of the map. The boat captain would shut off the engines and let the boat drift so we could all get lots of photos of the whales. You can see Bellingham at the top right of the map.
The people in this sailboat don't even seem to be aware that they are so near a whale.
We saw other things besides whales - the ship on the left is a freighter - the other is the Washington State Ferry
Another freight barge had a large variety of items - big containers of freight, road graders, semi trucks and even a boat. It was pulled by a huge tug boat.
Freight from around the world
And Coast Guard boats
And the State Ferries - back and forth across the channels
Sailboats and whale watching boats
You could tell which side of the boat the whales were on - all the passengers rushed over to see the whales
Rocky shores - and a random white boulder - wonder how it got there
More sailboats and horses on a hillside
Most of the whales just broke the water - not any jumping or breaching, but did what is called porpoising. Porpoising is also known as running, which refers to the high speed surface behavior where long, low jumps are alternated with swimming close to the surface.
The scenery was outstanding - bright water and forests on rocky shores
Waves splashing beside the boat
Two horses on hillside
The pod of Orcas that we saw was T146. T is for a transient pod, 146 is the number given to the adult female in the pod - the transient pods eat mammals (seals, sea lions,porpoises and dolphins. while the resident pods of Orcas eat only fish and squid, and this way they divide up the food available in different locations.
The only time a whale came up out of the water - this is called sky hopping - they are looking around to see what is going on and then continue traveling. I was the only one on the boat that got this shot. Talk about lucky.
It was a fabulous trip - the weather was gorgeous and we saw a lot of whales. Thank you Rusty, Jamie and Donnie - we had a wonderful time!!