Today at Orca Dreams, we did four boat trips and saw lots of whales. Our morning fishing trip resulted in salmon for dinner, and we got Dungeness Crabs in the evening which we enjoyed as an appetizer.
It was a fantastic 55th birthday for me.
For details about our first two days check out Day 1 and Day 2 by clicking on the links.
Each morning here at Orca Dreams camp, the coffee is ready early and they provide hot water, tea bags, and hot chocolate for those that don't drink coffee.
Today, we were heading out at 7:00 a.m. for a fishing excursion. Six of the ten of us bought fishing licenses, and we were looking forward to catching our dinner.
Ryan took two in his small boat, and J.D. took four of us in the Osprey fishing boat.
Here's this morning's sunrise as we left camp.
J.D. took us to a spot where he set up two rods to troll for salmon. Though there were four of us, there were only two rods.
Now, when I think of fishing, I think of a rod in my hand and trying to somehow entice a fish to take the bait.
Trolling requires setting up the rods and having the local knowledge about bait, speed, currents, tides, and depths, but then it's all up to the fish. J.D. does all the work, the fish catch themselves, and then we get the credit for successfully reeling them in.
So, it's not really the type of fishing I care for, and I was thinking maybe buying the three-day licenses was a waste. However, trolling allowed us to watch for other wildlife.
J.D. didn't think the tide/current conditions were the best for catching anything, but it wasn't long before we had a fish on.
Mike, from upstate New York, had been lured on this trip by his daughter, Sydney, with the promise of fishing. So, the decision was easy - Mike would be bringing in the first fish.
The mist was burning off faster this morning, and the line was tight over the smooth water.
The rod was bowed as Mike fought to bring the fish close enough to be netted.
It was a beautiful Chinook (aka King).
Fresh salmon for dinner!
Mike and Sydney were all smiles, and we were happy for both of them.
J.D. got the rods set up again, and we continued to troll for awhile with no luck.
But it didn't matter. Humpbacks kept us entertained.
The thing with Humpbacks is you never know when and where they might surface, so they can easily pop up nearby. Although, you are supposed to watch them from 100 meters away (unlike the 200 meter rule for Orcas), fishermen are allowed a bit a leniency.
So, some of our best Humpback watching was this morning while fishing.
As we trolled back in the opposite direction, ....
a Humpback did a full breach in the distance. And then it did it again. And none of us managed a photo. Yep, we missed the Humpback breach dream shot ... again.
I did get a photo of it waving its long pectoral fin.
And then it dove giving us a nice tail shot.
A few minutes later, another one came up much closer. Here's the sequence of the surface and dive.
Wow, that was very cool. I had completely forgotten about fishing at that point. And I no longer cared about the cost of the fishing licenses.
Next, some Dall's Porpoises were doing a little bow riding in front of a tour boat.
Yet another close Humpback surface.
And then we had two together plus another distant blow in the same photo.
Another tail shot.
On the other side of the boat, a small Humpback came up between us and the shore.
We didn't catch any more fish, but it clearly didn't matter. Plus, we got word from the other boat that they caught a Pink Salmon, so we had plenty for dinner.
After J.D. put the fishing gear away, he took us back a different way on the Osprey (which can cover much more water much faster than the good ol' Tenzing). It was hard to believe we were on the ocean with that calm water, and it was a lovely morning.
Back at camp, John had his Pink Salmon, and Mike came off the boat with his Chinook.
We had a great, late breakfast with frittata, bacon, leftover blueberry pancakes, and more. It was already a fantastic morning.
After breakfast, Ryan cleaned the salmon, and then we took two boats out to look for Orcas that had been reported.
Linda & I joined J.D. on the Osprey with Julien & Fanny. The rest went with Ryan on the Tenzing. It would take the Tenzing longer to get to the whale spot, so we made a detour to check some crab pots (traps).
Julien helped bring the traps in.
There were Dungeness Crabs in each pot, but all but one were female and had to be thrown back in. The one we kept was a beauty.
We used the scraps from the salmon to re-bait the traps, and re-set them. We'll check them again this evening before dinner.
The Tenzing had just arrived at the Orcas when we pulled up behind it. There was a large male and a few fins in the distance.
But as we got closer, we saw lots of fins in this large pod.
These Orcas weren't moving much, and they weren't "talking" when we put the hydrophone in the water. They were clearly in resting mode, so we gave them extra space.
Eventually, they changed direction and moseyed along.
I'm sure these kayakers were thrilled as this pod spread out in front of them and swam by slowly. We have to admit we were a bit jealous.
The Tenzing had maneuvered over in that direction, and they got a pretty good look as well.
Of course the perspective is a bit distorted, and the kayakers and boats were much farther away than it appears.
We moved on in the Osprey, and found a few Humpbacks.
This female and calf stayed in our vision for a while, ....
and they ran right up on this fishing boat.
Wow. As they went past, one of them raised a pectoral fin as if to say "Sorry for getting so close".
After those sightings, we returned to the pod of Orcas, but there were lots of boats and we stayed back. After watching with the binoculars for a few minutes, we headed back to our camp in the beautiful small channel.
We had a late lunch and rested a short time before a few of us went back out.
This time, Ryan took the Osprey and the first thing we did was check the crab pots. There were a lot more crabs this time, but still most of them were female.
However, we were able to keep three males that were large enough to go with the one we got earlier.
Fresh Dungeness Crab as an appetizer before tonight's salmon dinner. The day just keeps getting better.
We just went a short distance out into Blackney Pass for more Humpback watching.
Between these two whales below, you can see our camp with the Tenzing floating in front of the beach.
More Humpback photos.
Though this area is famous for Orca watching due to the nearly 300 resident individuals, Orca watching is best in just a couple of months during the summer. The Humpbacks, on the other hand, can be seen in these waters for several months and seeing them is pretty much guaranteed.
From the Orca Dreams camp, we saw distant spouts and an occasional breach, and we could hear the Humpbacks blowing all day and night.
Eventually, we pulled ourselves away from the whales and returned to camp where Ryan cleaned the crabs.
Linda had wine on the beach with the other guests while I sat on the deck of our tent going through the day's photos and watching the seals in the cove and the whale spouts in the sound.
The crabs were steamed, and I bounded back to the beach when I heard they were ready. A table had been set up on the beach for the crab and accompanying melted butter, and we picked them apart and devoured the meat in minutes. Oh so good.
A few minutes later, we were seated in the dining shelter enjoying our fresh salmon dinner, and discussing going back out on the Tenzing after we were finished.
For dessert, Linda had conspired with the staff to make a fresh batch of brownies for dessert for my birthday. A pan of warm brownies was served with candles and a rendition of "Happy Birthday".
Lauren, a fellow brownie lover, had located a recipe and made them. And they were delicious brownies not "some chocolate cake thing passed off as brownies" as we agreed is often the case.
With all the day's activities and festivities, by the time we got back out on the water, it was a sunset cruise.
The lighting was nice for photographing more Humpbacks.
We also took photos of the sea birds that were our constant companions on the water.
This is a Common Murre.
But the Rhinoceros Auklets were more fascinating. Almost every one we saw had a fish in its mouth and sometimes two.
We pondered how they were able to catch two fish without losing one.
And once they had a fish, they struggled to take flight. It was comical watching them. Some made it up, but many couldn't.
The sun continued to sink and the smoke from wildfires on the mainland of British Columbia made for some nice colors.
We rounded the point heading back to camp and said goodbye to the sun for today.
And what an epic day it was. I'm not much on celebrating birthdays, but I can't imagine having one any better than this.
Again, it's going to be hard to leave.