Today was the end of our trip with Orca Dreams. We would be leaving the camp around noon. But first, there were more adventures to be had.
We had a pod of Orcas to ourselves in the early morning fog, and then we saw more Humpbacks on our last excursion.
The experience was fantastic, and we're thinking a whole summer in the area may be in our future.
For details of our first three days, click on these links: Day 1, Day 2, and Day 3.
Because the prior morning was so nice being on the water early for fishing, J.D. offered to take those that didn't fish, Julien & Fanny, out at 7:00 a.m. this morning.
Fanny saw my eyes light up when I heard that discussion, and she asked if I wanted to join them. "Absolutely" was my response. Linda decided to sleep in, so the three of us were going to join J.D. on the fishing boat, the Osprey.
We waited on the beach in our calm cove with the waning moon above.
Soon we were on the water, looking back down the narrow channel at the sunrise.
We entered some fog shortly after leaving camp, so we drove slowly through Blackfish Sound.
Then, amazingly, we encountered a family of Orcas, a male, female, and a calf. None of the whale-watching boats were on the water yet, so it was just the four of us and the whales.
This was my first photo of the Orcas this morning, and the background is a complete white-out.
There was an eerie beauty watching these three whales slicing the calm water with their dorsal fins and not being able to see anything else beyond them. Their blows felt like the only sound on earth, and I may have had a tear in my eye from the joy of being right there right then.
Sometimes, they would just disappear into the mist, and then return into view.
The calf provided some memorable moments.
I was in my own personal heaven watching these beautiful, intelligent animals.
J.D. heard some faint blows and felt sure there was another group, so we left our special threesome and followed the blows. Sure enough, we found others that may have been in route to meeting up with the three we left.
I could have stayed with the whales all day, but we needed to get back to camp for breakfast and to pick up the others for another boat ride. Plus, the canons of ethical whale-watching dictate that we limit our time with the Orcas.
After another fine breakfast, we packed and brought all our gear and luggage to the dining shelter. Then we gathered on the beach and boarded the Tenzing one last time.
It didn't take long to find a Humpback. Here's a silhouetted dive sequence.
We saw that more often the last few days than I ever expected, and it never gets old.
Though we were seeing Harbor Seals daily on our boat trips and in the Orca Dreams cove, we hadn't yet seen one out of the water. And Sydney had that on her list of things she wanted to see. So, we found a cooperating seal.
On our way back, we were close to camp when a Humpback breached not too far away. A few, including Linda, saw that magical moment, but, again, we missed the pictures.
However, while sitting and waiting for another jump, a huge whale swam close by. We could see the white of its pectoral fin in the water before it surfaced near us.
It then proceeded to send us off with a dive and a great tail shot.
Thank you for the farewell my giant friend.
As we neared the Orca Dreams cove one last time, a float plane was taking off from the channel heading toward the smoke shrouded mountains of the mainland.
Our departure would be a bit less dramatic, but we would remember these days for a long time nonetheless.
Pulling into Orca Dreams camp, I took one more shot of this little piece of wilderness paradise where the whales feed and frolic and you sleep to the sounds of their breathing.
With hugs and handshakes, we said our thank yous and goodbyes to J.D. & Kelly and their staff, Ryan, Lauren, and Monique.
I admit I didn't want to get overly excited prior to this journey, and my expectations were low when we arrived. That first morning, I was sulking a bit, but everything turned around that afternoon in the presence of the Orcas, and it turned out to be a fantastic experience that will be etched in our memories for a long, long time.
Around noon, we boarded our water taxi and returned to Telegraph Cove. We exchanged email addresses along the way.
John, Stephanie, Chloe, and A.J., the family from Alberta, had to scoot, but the rest of us took a group photo by the sign where we all met the first day.
And thus ended our amazing trip.
For a guy who has loved Orcas (and whales in general) since my days visiting Sea World and Marineland in California as a toddler (back when everybody called them Killer Whales), the opportunity to spend time with these magnificent creatures in the wild was the best birthday gift I could have had. It was far more than "whale-watching"; we "experienced" the whales over multiple days in ways that are hard to explain.
And this trip epitomizes the phrase that is part of our logo - Nature Travelers, Travel For The Soul.