Friday, June 22, 2012

Puget Sound Whale Watching

On this rainy June Friday, we decide to take the ferry (by foot) over to San Juan Island. We catch the 9 AM sailing and shortly after 10 AM we're docking in Friday Harbor. Since we don't have our car, walking downtown Friday Harbor seems our best option.

Friday Harbor always has beautiful garden and flower displays, and this year doesn't disappoint.

As I sit watching boats enter the harbor, Bob walks around with our little camera and takes a few pictures.

I am surprised when my phone rings and it's Bob calling me. He tells me the Victoria Clipper III just came into dock and we're going on a whale watching tour. This is an unexpected surprise!

I mistakenly thought this boat had come from Victoria and was headed through the San Juan Islands. The company that runs this boat does do that, but in this case, the boat started in Seattle specifically to come to San Juan Island and then head out to see if they can find whales. As they are in constant contact with groups that do nothing but (or so it seems) watch wales, it only took about half an hour before we came upon them. 

The ferry above is docked at Shaw Island, and the whales were just in front of the dock.

Notice the top picture above showing two ferries. In the sound, whales and oil tankers always have the right of way, and these inter island ferries must stop to allow the whales to pass. Remarkably as we are also stopped, they swim almost right up to our boat, dive underneath, and then make a beeline over to Orca Island, a very short distance from us. For almost an hour, we watch transfixed as they continually dive, breach, and do all sorts of acrobatics. Although we like to think they are showing off for us, in reality, they are trying to induce the seals to get off the rocks next to Orca Island so they can have them for lunch. It turns on these are pods T36 & T37, two of the transient pods that dine on seals. Local pods eat mostly salmon.

Since we didn't anticipate this trip, we didn't have our SLR camera with us (it rained all day after boarding the boat) and my iPhone just couldn't capture these pictures. Our little old Canon Power Shot took these, thanks to Bob standing out in the rain at the rear of the boat and persistently taking pictures. The last shot is his best.

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