This week’s photo, taken April 18, 2016 from the 76-passenger vessel Wilderness Discoverer off the coast of San Juan Island, WA, features a spy-hopping ORCA, with a member of its pod close behind. While passengers and crew were watching this pod of at least 5 Orcas (or Killer Whales), suddenly one Orca rocketed half its body out of the water. Since that display lasted no more than 1 1/2 seconds, it was fortunate that I already had my camera aimed at the right spot, and I was rewarded with my best image of the entire cruise.
Last week I did a weeklong cruise through Washington state’s Salish Sea with Un-Cruise Adventures, a Seattle-based company that features small ships, a very helpful crew, and plenty of on-water and on-shore activities. I highly recommend their adventure cruises.
We explored the Hood Canal, hiked in the Olympic National Forest, rode around Protection Island in a 8-person skiff, did short hikes on Stuart and Sucia Islands and one “big” hike on Orcas Island, where we climbed to the summit of Mt Constitution, the highest point in all of the San Juan Islands.
The birds were impressive on our bird-themed cruise, yet the marine mammals were the highlight of the week for me and many other passengers. On 3 occasions, we spotted ORCAS, the largest member of the dolphin family, and one afternoon we were lucky to observe 2 normally elusive MINKE WHALES, the smallest of the baleen whales. The Minkes were part of a feeding frenzy that included several hundred birds, mostly COMMON MURRES, RHINOCEROS AUKLETS and GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULLS.
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