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~

169 thoughts on “Hanging Out w/ Transients~

    • We loved spending time with these amazing creatures! It saddens me immensely that the matriarchal resident Washington pods are starving. We spent so much time with orcas off Vancouver Island years ago and fell fully under their spell.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. They are so beautiful!! 😍 and all your pics looked so fab despite the limitations you mentioned (honestly I wouldnt have even noticed had you not mentioned)….the mother-child pic was truly adorable….i think they did the under belly thing to impress you to take more pictures 😀…
    sad to hear about the starvation though …we humans have really messed things up! Over fishing and over exploitation and plastic pollution…recently there was a news of a diver doing to the deepest known part of the ocean in marina trench and guess what he found there?? Plastic trash!!! Even deepest part of the oceans are not left untouched by us!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a break for me. I managed to get in here before there were a few hundred comments. 😉 I do love the orcas and saw them a few times when in Vancouver. Your photos are always wonderful. So often, like today’s post, I must apologize for my offerings. 😦 However, what I wanted to share won out and I did the post anyway. 😉 xx

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    • It is appalling how much damage we are doing to the planet, her creatures and ourselves. I have seen so many awesome orca photos. They have tours with the orcas in the US where you get very closer and spend days with them in much better photographic conditions, but they start at $2500.00 per person. The photos would be phenomenal, but the price is excessive and it might rain the whole time! In our first Canada orca trip fifteen years ago, we were able to get much closer and stay with the orcas much longer as they have much larger populations. But in our most recent Canada trip a few years ago, all the orca tours were cancelled as the orcas weren’t there. I need to move to Canada if I want optimal orca photos. Canada is just an unfair advantage for photography!!! 😉 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  3. They seem to be very playful and intelligent beings. I know what you mean about their food sources are getting less and less. That is a little sad and I think part of that is us too.

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  4. I love Orcas. Hubby worked as a captain of a whale watching boat in Vancouver one summer and I was able to go out with him once. The orcas (the resident J pod) circled the boat and entertained us for about 30 minutes. There were moms, dads and kids. It was so amazing. So sad to hear they no longer have enough food. What are we doing to this planet?

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    • You picked a good hubby! What an amazing experience that must have been! I know so many people like you and I care about our planet and all her inhabitants, but far too many other people do not, and they appear to be winning. It is very sad.

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  5. A remarkable series, Cindy. I love the capture of a mother and calf kissing each other. ❤
    Thank you for the tour info. A three-day trip for photographers would be so cool. 🙂 🙂

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    • It would be very cool (and not just from the weather!) Also though, very pricey. The tour I looked at was $2500.00 per person for three days and you stay on hotels on land.

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  6. Seeing whales in the wild is such an amazing experience. Although it may make viewing harder, I am glad to hear that they have now regulated distance to reduce harassment. Seeing the free-for-all of competing whale charter boats makes me ill!

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    • Agreed. The rules are needed as these creatures are now quite vulnerable. I have never seen the crowding you describe but it does sound awful. It would be best for whale welfare to enforce the regulations across the board and not overlook charters that charge guests exorbitant fees, or private boaters, who ignore the rules and go too close.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Incredible photos, but sad, too. A domino effect on the entire ecosystem. Poor unsuspecting mammals have another threat to deal with thanks to climate change.

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  8. Spectacular. Reminded of the time we were in Alaska (Seward) where we took a day cruise … wonderful …. and in the midst of a superpod of Orcas … actually close enough that one could touch them leaning from the boat.

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  9. What a thrill to see these magnificent large creatures so close, Cindy. I’m totally envious of your experience, but viewing the images on your blog at least gives me half a thrill. 🙂

    Seeing other photos on the internet is not half as good as seeing them through your eyes.

    Thankyou for sharing.

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    • Awww, you are very kind Vicki and so appreciated. Thank you. You make me very happy I posted. This was not the best conditions for photos of orcas by a long shot, but anytime spent among orcas is a thrill that must be shared. Thank you for appreciating these stunning creatures ❤ ❤

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  10. I’ve seen pods of orcas a couple of times on the BC ferries between Vancouver Island and the mainland. When orcas are sighted the ferry slows down almost to nothing so as not to disturb them, and everyone on the ferry gets a really good look! Amazing beings. You got some great shots despite the limitations.
    Alison

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    • Canada is, well Canada. The scenic beauty, coupled with the more protected wildlife make being there a visual feast. We are heading to Churchill next, to hopefully see the polar bears and the belugas you can dry suit swim with. It is good to see wildlife thriving.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Orcas have always been some of my favorite animals, they just seem so intelligent and full of life. It sucks to hear that resident orcas are declining off the coast of Washington though 😦 Leave it to humans to decimate one of the most abundant food sources along the Pacific coast: salmon.

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    • Incredibly sad isn’t it. Those massive schools of huge chinooks declining. The world is becoming increasingly divided between those who care about our planet and creatures and those who don’t, and it seems the wrong side is continuing to dominate. What will the profit seekers do with their money when they start declining and dying like the salmon.

      Liked by 2 people

    • One option I guess, or increase salmon farming, but that has its own environmental problems. Orcas are beset with multiple problems, declining chinook salmon stocks, chemical pollution concentrating in their tissues, noise from shipping and the new Canadian pipeline interfering with their ability to locate prey, and virus and bacteria contamination, including distemper. I was struck repeatedly in The Hood Canal by the scarcity of bird life. Bald Eagles in the region are experiencing declining birth rates thought to be linked to PCB pollution. We are excellent at messing things up aren’t we.

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  12. A couple of years ago my husband and I saw orcas in Alaska. A couple of them swam right up to the boat. It was scary but so exciting. Your pictures are great! 😀 xo

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  13. We humans are destroying everything!
    There are new whaling laws in Canada. The laws hurt not just the whaling industry, (FOR F SAKE, who makes an industry out of killing whales????? BAD IDEA) it also hurts the fishing industry. While the whales are mating in the mouth of the St. Laurence River … NO FISHING!!!!!!
    Who needs to eat fish anyway? Fish are filled with plastic, that we gave them to eat. Talk about reaping just rewards!

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    • I know, it is absolutely stupid. Orcas are infected with a host of carcinogens, viruses and bacteria, fish are dying off, orcas are bombarded by mechanical noise from boats and industry foiling their hunting abilities, a new pipeline is going to be built from Canada in their already beleaguered territory. The madness just escalates. We were stuck on a road for many hours on The Hood Canal due to a tragic fatal accident. A truck carrying timber pulp refuse from a paper factory and a car collided. They had to clean up the pulp and were concerned about toxicity. What I really don’t understand about the people making these decisions is why they don’t get that what is happening to the salmon, the orcas, the wildlife, is also happening to them. Afterall, we are biological animals too. I wonder if they imagine they are immune to the carcinogens and pathogens and pollution they are creating. The profits they make won’t help them run from this. They can’t run far enough away. The damage is everywhere.

      Liked by 1 person

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