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Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Orca Experience 5/31/15

Wow, I put this off for a really long time, which isn't like me at all. After all, seeing Orcas was on my not-quite-yet midlife crisis list, and I finally got to see them!

My mother and I had already attempted to see them once before the previous year, and we'd only gotten a glimpse of some Humpbacks, which put whale watching on my spite list. So, with another Groupon at my disposal, we attempted again, this time using a different company. Groupon is filled with deals for whale watching, however most of them start on the San Juan Islands and you first need to get yourself to them which can be a hassle, so I had to find one that starts on the coast instead. This one started in Port Angeles, and we took a 3-hour boat ride up to Friday Harbor. It included a 2-hour layover at the harbor and then a return trip for $50/pp and that was a great deal, especially considering all we got to see.

The only real issue I had was my motion sickness. It doesn't tend to be a problem as long as I can look out a window, but unfortunately we were seated 6 to a table, 3 on each side, and I was on the isle. I tried looking out the window from my position but my brain said that wasn't good enough. I didn't get ill, however, I just felt generally crappy and and dizzy. Another unfortunate issue was that this trip started quite early in the morning and despite having a record-breaking heatwave of a summer, it was only about 60 degrees and the sun hadn't broken through the marine layer yet. Some people braved the cold to be on the outside of the boat but I was not one of them.

On our way up to Friday Harbor we saw a lot of wildlife including a bald eagle and a sea lion. And then, the word came. Orcas. Our boat was the first of the day to spot a pod of Orcas (all the boats of all the companies share information so that everyone can see the whales when they're spotted.) so they were not yet identified. What we knew from general knowledge was that while resident Orcas tend to spread their pod out, transient ones tend to stick in a tight group, which these ones did.

Turns out these were Transient Pod #127 which was also captured (for free! grrr lol) moving along under the Tacoma Narrows Bridge the next day.

I was so stoked to see real Orcas. I did a report on them in high school (had been my plan since day one of joining Marine Biology) and they are one of my favorite animals. Definitely my favorite marine animal.

Anyway, after we got our fill of Orcas, the boat headed to Friday Harbor to spend a couple of hours. Mom and I walked around and found a decent restaurant to eat in, and did a little shopping. Two hours was definitely not enough time!

I think I want to do this trip again. Hopefully next time we'll run into playful Orcas that are jumping out of the water. That would be epic!

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