Here they are coming over to say, “Hello!”
These orcas are part of a transient pod that hunt mammals in the waters off the coast of northern Washington.
This area used to be the territory of healthy pods of resident, salmon eating orcas. Many of these resident whales are now starving because their principal food source, salmon, have declined dramatically.
Their territorial waters are being taken over by transient whales who hunt local seals and seal lions.
Resident salmon eating orcas, and transient mammal eating orcas have evolved separately, speak different languages (yes, whales have languages), and have different behaviors and social structures.
The starvation of the resident orcas of the pacific northwest is yet another environmental tragedy endangering the lives of wild species.
Above you see a mother and calf kissing each other.
Then Mama and baby both decide to do a upside-down-under-boat-swim, so close to the hull , you could almost lean over the boat rails and touch their glowing blue bellies. They did this twice!
Why do you think?
And the most amazing thing? A grey whale did the exact same thing on our next trip.
We took two reasonably priced trips out of different parts of Washington, one for a full day, and another for a half day. On both trips we were allowed to spend about twenty minutes watching the orcas from a distance of about two football fields away, usually in fog, rain and rough seas. It is quite difficult to get decent orca photos in these conditions, but these rules are important because they protect orcas from harassment. Despite the limitations, we thoroughly enjoyed and would recommend both trips.
There are a variety of other tours available which allow you to spend more up-close time with pacific northwest orcas, but they can be very expensive, and maybe more intrusive. One three day trip for photographers for example cost $2500.00 per person. You can also book tours out of British Columbia, which we did years ago. On the Canadian tours we were accompanied by a orca biologist and were able to spend more up close time with the more plentiful Canadian orcas for a reasonable fee.
If you want to see wild orcas, do your research, and select a company that will best meet your expectations.
Cheers to you from the gorgeous orcas of the pacific northwest~