When I was growing up my parents took us to amusement park almost every year, Sea World. I loved it! I love anything aquatic, but my favorite mammals are typically the arctic ones. Having visited so often, I developed a deep love and fascination with orcas. I am obsessed. When I was six I had my entire room painted a baby blue and along the top of the wall we added a strip of wall paper that had an orca and a glacier with a baby seal on it. Just thinking about it brings a smile to my face.
One of my biggest dreams was to see orcas out in the wild. But it never happened. Since I’ve gone to Anacortes, we’ve been on three different whale tours and each time the orcas were no where to be seen. However, there were other whales present like the humpback whale and also some seals, but they weren’t my beloved killer whales. So needless to say I was always disappointed. This time my sister went on another whale watching tour while we were in the area. And in case you didn’t know there are quite a few companies that provide this service. There is Island Adventures, Blackfish Tours, and also Spirit of Orca Whale Watching. The main tour company that we’ve booked in the past was Island Adventures and once we used Blackfish Tours. Each one of them was nice and I had no complaints about either one. Just make sure that you book a few months in advance to ensure you get the day and time that you want.
This time we booked with Island Adventures and met them at the dock. The boat was two stories and quite roomy and clean. As soon as they allowed us to board, Ari and I found our seats at a booth and followed along with the safety instructions that they provided to us. Then we were cruising. Briefly, Ari and I ventured out to the deck to enjoy the sites, but also the fresh air. The cool crisp air woke me up and the salty mist from the water coated me. I loved it. I forgot how much I loved being on the water. While we held onto the railing with each crest of the waves against the hull of the boat, their marine biologist began to speak about the area and the local wildlife that is typically found. They usually have bald eagles, seals, gray, and humpback whales, and of course orcas.
Right off the bat we found a small group of seals that were sunbathing on the rocks. We coasted around them for while as everyone snapped their pictures. After about ten minutes we moved on and I went inside to warm up. One of the best things about the whale watching tours is they have a little concession stand, so I grabbed some coffee and Ari and split an order of chili cheese fries. They were so good and I finally warmed up a bit. But I did see a zip up that caught my eye and ended up getting a new light jacket, which I promptly wore to layer up. So quick heads up, make sure you dress in layers if you do go out because it becomes extremely chilly during the boat ride. Pack a jacket or two, a windbreaker would be nice, a hat that covers your ears, a scarf, gloves, and a blanket. I know it seems like overkill, but you’ll thank me later.
We continued on course when we heard an announcement saying whales had been spotted. I glanced over at my sister and I remember saying, “They said whales. Why be so general. I bet they’re orcas.” Twenty minutes later we all rushed out to the deck to see a small pod of orcas swimming along the Orcas Islands. Together we huddled around trying to get the best pictures, but I glanced down at my watch and saw we were close to the turn around time. Even the marine biologist said it, but then the captain said, we aren’t going anywhere! I was so excited.
We followed the orcas and found out that they were actually out hunting a seal. There was one baby in the group and the marine biologist said it appeared that the older ones were teaching him how to hunt. I didn’t know this, but catching orcas in the middle of hunt is pretty rare. I hope you like some of the pictures I was able to get. I apologize for the lack of clarity, I should have brought my actual camera and not used my phone. I’d say the video is much clearer.
Absolutely freezing at this point, we finally turned the boat around. Everyone’s arms and hands were hurting from maintaining their photo ready positions. We ended up going over by an hour and a half. But I’d say it was well worth it because I finally got see my favorite mammal in the wild.
So if you haven’t been on a whale watching tour, you may want to book one for your next trip. They can’t guarantee you’ll always see orcas, but it’s always a great time and an awesome way to experience nature.
Have you ever been on a whale watching tour before? If so, what were able to see?