(Note: the tour I talk about here and this post are from June 30, 2016, but the wi-fi at the vacation home where we were staying wasn’t very fast and there were up to 12 people using it.)
We’re visiting family in Washington state and as part of our visit we scheduled a whale watching tour. I’ve been so fortunate as to have seen a number of whale species in the wild, but I had never had an opportunity to see Orcas in the wild. Until now.
The tour left at 10:00 am. The sky was gray with overcast, and there was a pretty strong wind. We we’re out for an hour or so when we came across several bald eagles and harbor sea lions, but no whale. Soon, however, we came upon a good size pod of Transient Orcas as we watched the T100 and T100B’s, including the very young calf, as they traveled north. This is an extended family of seven killer whales, spanning three generations–a mom, her daughter, and her daughter’s daughter! The little one had been born just 4 years ago. There was also a 14 year old bull, and a baby that was so young, born in 2015, that little is known about him/her.
We stayed with the pod for almost two hours, and what a show! We also watched them in an intense hunt and saw a number of tail lobs as they hunted (our guide thought it was a harbor seal). We also saw celebratory exhibition after the kill with breaches galore. We followed along as they traveled between hunts, so were able to get a good look at the entire pod and we’re rewarded with a few spy hops.
It was better than I had ever imagined, and I am so pleased they graced us with the wondrous presence.
If you follow this blog you know I bought a Canon Rebel T6i about a month ago to take on this trip. I read and practiced and read and practiced, hoping to get some good shots if I was lucky enough to encounter orcas. Well, I took over 1038 shots during the tour, and I got some good ones (for an amature). I’ll share a few of the best below. I used a Canon EF 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM Lens and set the camera for continuous shots and shutter priority. I shot mostly at 1/1250 shutter speed and set the ISO between 200 and 400 as the light changed throughout the day.
Here’s a 14 year old male T100B breaching in celebration after a kill
Here’s the big boy again spy hopping
And here you can see several Orcas traveling together
And finally, a couple of tail lobs
I’ll never forget this experience and hope to be able to do another whale watching tour in the area someday.