As if our Pacific Northwest Adventure couldn't get anymore amazing, on Day 8 we got to experience one of the coolest things I've ever done! So I've been to SeaWorld and seen Shamu and I've seen the movie Free Willy, but never before have I ever thought of seeing orcas (whales) in the wild. On the second to last day of our awesome trip, we got to do just that!
After staying in Sequim, Washington the night before, we made the short drive west to Port Angeles where we would embark on our Orca Tour early in the morning. If you ever get the chance to do something like this, I highly recommend it. Our whale watching tour was through Port Angeles Whale Watch Company on The Island Explorer 4 vessel. The company guarantees that you'll see some sort of whale, either orca, humpback, or gray whale, or you can ride again for free until you see one! The vessel is manned by highly trained and passionate workers who enjoy talking marine biology and explaining the different sea life and birds that you encounter. So along with an excellent sightseeing opportunity of the Washington coast and Canadian waters, it is also very educational. Did I mention its cold?
But hey, you're in the Pacific waters! What did you expect? A little cold winds and spray of Pacific Ocean is good for your soul! :)
So our large vessel full of about 60 passengers charted out of Port Angeles north towards Canada in search of whales. The tour was scheduled to be 5 hours long and in hopes of us getting our money worth by seeing at least one orca. Well we, including the ship crew, were in for a treat that day.
After about an hour and half drive through the brisk Pacific waters and cold winds, we hadn't see any wildlife except for several typical marine birds. But the ride was still entertaining as we got to listen to the captain tell stories and jokes over the intercom and I had a great discussion with a fellow photographer (also with a big lens) and her experience with working with this Whale Watching Company. Then as we were getting in closer distance to Canadian land we were approaching multiple boats which ended up being Canadian whale tours. They were all in the same location because we were about to witness at least 20 orcas!
Robbie and I had ended up being at the right place at the right time on the ship, as we were on the very bow of the ship where I had more than an 180 degree view. There were whales to the left, right, front, and behind us! We even had one go under our ship! Not just one whale traveling alone, but their group of families (or pods as they call them). And we even got to see 3 baby calves! The orcas were very active that day as we got to see several of them breach out of the water multiple times and do other wild tricks. It was such a surreal and peaceful experience as the only noises were the Pacific waters, the slow rhythms of the whales blow holes releasing a puff of air as they swam, and the audience cheering as the whales were basically performing for us. This was no SeaWorld show though as they were completely wild. Such an awesome experience!
Enjoy the photos below as I capture multiple shots of this amazing experience! Be sure to notice the baby whales!
Orcas Orcas Orca Tour Performing Orca Orca teaching its Calf Orca Family Orca Tricks Orca Tricks Orca Tail Slap Baby Orca Tricks Baby Orca Tricks Breaching Orca Orca Jumping Orca Breach Orca Blow Hole Orca Tricks Orca Tricks Orca Tricks Wild Orcas Orca Tail Orca Pod Family of Orcas Orca Pod Orca Pod Orcas in Canada Wild Orcas Wild Orcas Wild Orcas Wild Orcas Wild Orcas Wild Orcas Wild Orcas Wild Orcas Wild Orcas Wild Orcas Wild Orcas Underwater Orca Orca Tour Wild Orcas Orca Tour Orca Fin
This is a map the crew track showing how close we got to Canada and where we saw the orcas! The "start" at the bottom of the map is Port Angeles, Washington, and the upper part of the picture is Canada along Vancouver Island.
After about 2 hours of watching that amazing experience with the whales, it was time for our ship to start heading back. But first the crew took us by a Canadian lighthouse called Race Rocks Light. This beautiful lighthouse sits on an island of rocks near Victoria, Canada and was built around 1860 financed by the British Government. The island is also an ecological reserve for many sea lions and other wildlife. But we could definitely see, hear, and smell the sea lions!
This whole experience on the Pacific waters was an amazing experience. It was such a beautiful area and we couldn't have asked for better weather. And to blessed to be able to see that many orcas was beyond amazing! Again, I highly recommend doing an Orca Tour through this company if you ever get the chance. You will not be disappointed! After about 5 hours, we safely returned to Port Angeles. And needless to say, my camera memory card was almost full with all the great picture opportunities!
Sailing into the Wide Open Olympic Mountains Olympic Mountains Olympic Mountains Race Rocks Light Race Rocks Light Swimming Sea Lion Swimming Sea Lion Swimming Sea Lion Race Rocks Light Race Rocks Light Race Rocks Light Race Rocks Sea Lions Race Rocks Sea Lions Race Rocks Sea Lions Race Rocks Sea Lions Race Rocks Sea Lions Race Rocks Sea Lions Race Rocks Light Race Rocks Light Port Angeles, WA
Stay tuned as we finish up our Pacific Northwest Adventure in Olympic National Park!