Hanging Out w/ Transients~

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~

171 thoughts on “Hanging Out w/ Transients~

  1. It’s very tragic…
    Thankfully there are some measures in the works to hopefully make a positive impact.
    For example, some restaurants have eliminated salmon from the menu and whale watching boats will likely have more restrictions.
    I hope it’s not too late 😢💔

    Liked by 1 person

    • Their intelligent cooperation is incredible to see isn’t it. They often use a decoy orca who distracts the prey until the whole pod moves in with devastating effect. They celebrate after a successful hunt. I watched them in Antarctica shake penguins out of their skins. I look forward to seeing your photos and hearing your impressions when your someday becomes your day!

      Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, it is important. I am trained as a psychotherapist where ethics are critical, and a hobbyist photographer, but I see the ethical aspects of photography as something that needs more dialogue, issues of personal privacy in street photography, ecology and animal protection in wildlife photography, environmental respect in fragile ecosystem photography, and with endangered and threatened species, the stakes are even more important. Some excellent wildlife photography is wildlife invasive which I am not comfortable with.

      Liked by 3 people

      • Interesting.i knew about the personal privacy issue, but the rest is new information. It seems that we need more singing or shouting about ethical concerns related to human presence in nature. I was a student when I first heard these lines* about cutting down trees

          O if we but knew what we do 
        When we delve or hew — 
        Hack and rack the growing green! 

        But I never forgot them. I think poets and song writers could help educate us today about environmental problems that go way beyond aesthetics, which was this author’s concern. Getting, and holding, people’s attention is an important first step.

        *(from “Binsey Poplars” by G.M. Hopkins)

        Liked by 1 person

    • I feel sad too. I took photos of puffins on the sea which I will post, but there were not very many of them, and I learned thousands are dying off. It is heartbreaking. We are contaminated by the same chemicals that are harming wildlife.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Looked like an amazing experience Cindy ! Lucky you, they got so close too. I’m sad to hear they’re another victim of the changing tides on this planet we are trashing. We’ve not done any whale watching in Canada or the USA, such a shame. We often go in Maui and it’s brilliant to see how big these creatures really are. Photo’s can’t capture the excitement or butterflies of the day but you captured them well ! x K

    Like

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