A Fintastic Experience

When I was a little girl, I daydreamed of sailing the Calypso in search of dolphins and killer whales.  Creatures of the sea have always fascinated me, and while I never had the chance to join Cousteau’s crew, I did have the chance to live out a childhood dream this past week.

Hubby and I spent five full days on Orcas Island (off the coast of the state of Washington) hiking, kayaking, and yes…killer whale watching.

We signed up for a Tuesday morning tour with Outer Island Excursions -and for you Gilligan’s Island fans, it was indeed a three hour tour! I showed up with a camera in my hand and a prayer in my heart, hoping that we would actually get to encounter some of these beautiful beasts.

Our captain had initially planned on heading toward a Mama and her calf that had been spotted about an hour away, but shortly after we left the harbor, a cluster of fins broke the surface near our boat.

Soon, Orcas were swimming and splashing all around us.

This pod was a transient pod, known to travel the area in search of food.

At times, they were close enough to the boat to truly see their immense power and their incredible majesty. These pictures below are two of my favorites from the trip.

If I zoom in a little bit more, you can truly get a feel for how breathtaking they are!

We had the whales all to ourselves for a bit, but then our sister ship joined us, as well as a few others when they heard the report.

After swimming about the boat for awhile, the Orcas allowed us to accompany them across the water to a seal-laden island for a hunt. I promise you, it was like being on a National Geographic show!

If you look carefully, you can see that there are a tons of seals, well camouflaged with the water and the rocks.

The pod stuck close together as they patrolled the coastline, amazing me by how close they got to the shore.

At times they would swim toward the seals (you can see two on the rocks in the photo below) and at other times they would splash and try to frighten them into the water.

Some of the seals clustered together in a little cove where they clearly felt safe from harm.

To say that it was mesmerizing to watch these whales lurk about, waiting for their prey, would be an understatement.

When the hunt was done the orcas relaxed a bit, and almost playfully celebrated.

This shot below is one that hubby captured, since he had a second camera in hand.

Words really can’t convey how incredible this experience was – if I had to pick a single adjective, I’d have to say it was simply fintastic!

It only seems fitting to end with a quote from Jacques himself – “The sea, once it cast its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.”



17 thoughts on “A Fintastic Experience

  1. Totally Orsome! What a great experience. So the hunt was successful? …the reference to celebrating made me wonder if you witnessed their success in taking prey?

  2. My husband and I were completely skunked the first time we went to to see Orcas, but years later (last year) we were in Vancouver and did find a large pod. I found it just as fascinating as you did but we weren’t lucky enough to see a hunt. that must have been fascinating! Great captures.

  3. What an incredible privilege, Kathy! And you got magnificent photos to chronicle the experience! Thanks for sharing it with us (I’m sure I am not the only one green with jealousy!)

  4. Oh what a wonderful experience you had! In 1997 I was luck enough to be on a wildlife watching boat just out of Juneau, and we watched five humpbacks bubble fest ed for about 45 min.! To say the least it still remains fine if my favorite adventure. Thanks so much for sharing yours!

  5. Excellent pictures! I have seen Orcas only once on a pelagic birding trip in Cape Town, South Africa – very impressive animals!

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