Monday, May 11, 2009

Pacific Coastal Cruise and Orca Photos

I have so many garden photos to post, but have been too busy lately. One of the reasons is that I just returned from a 5 night cruise on Holland America's Statendam, roundtrip from Vancouver BC, May 5 - 10, stopping in Port Angeles WA, Seattle WA, Victoria BC, and Port Alberni BC.

The weather started out a bit overcast and lightly rainy, but ended up brilliantly sunny. Here are a few photo highlights from the trip (as always, click the image for a slightly larger view - which I have significantly reduced from the 4 MB images taken by our camera)...

I liked this sky, and the distant Celebrity cruise ship:
Cruise ship
For anyone who sailed on Celebrity's Mercury ship into Port Angeles with us on May 6, here is a photo of your arrival just after ours:
Celebrity Mercury cruise ship
It is a bit busy, but I liked this imagery of the ramp being delivered to us by forklift:
Cruise ship welcome in Port Angeles
The early morning approach to Port Alberni was really awesome, the ship making its way 30 miles through a narrow channel (fjord) shrouded in fog:
Foggy early morning passage to Port Alberni
But the highlight for me was the visit to Victoria, where we took a 3 hour Zodiak whale watching expedition. I have wanted to take one of these whale watching tours ever since I visited Victoria some 20 years ago, and saw a brochure (but at the time, it didn't work out to join a tour). The tour was everything I had imagined or hoped it to be. It started out with a visit to a local hangout for harbour seals:
Harbour seal hangout
Then a hangout for sea lions (Stellar, California, and Elephant sea lions):
Sea lion hangout
Sea lions on rocky shore
Even sightings of bald eagles, turkey vultures circling, and this family of Canada Geese:
Family of Canada Geese
And even a pass by a lighthouse under repair, which reminds me of the "leaky condo" repairs we see in our area:
Lighthouse in leaky condo repairs
But the main event was to track and observe a small family of "transient" (mostly seal hunting, as opposed to the "resident" fish hunting ones) Orca whales. There were 3 whales in the family:
Orca Whale Family
We were told that the mother ("T10" or "Langara") was born in 1963, so she is not much older than me... She is the one with the notched fin:
T10 Orca Mother
Her son ("T10B" or "Siwash") was born in 1983, and is absolutely stunning, with his tall dorsal fin:
Male Orca Whale
On one occasion, we got so close that I needed to back out the lens, I didn't capture him fully in my view. Here is the front of him; you can see that he is eyeing us as he surfaces:
Male Orca Eyeing Us
...and then his dorsal fin retreating into the water:
Male Orca Fin
The other child ("T10C" or "Bones") was born in 1999, and is not known to be male or female yet.
This is my absolute favourite photo, showing the whales surfacing within close range of another whale watching Zodiac:
Whale Watching Boat and Orca
Wow, it was an exciting 3 hours.
Our return to Victoria's inner harbour rewarded us with a nice view of the Empress Hotel:
Empress Hotel in Victoria, from the Inner Harbour
...and the Legislative Buildings (home of the BC Government):
Legislative Buildings in Victoria BC
But neither of those could compare with our close sightings of the Orcas.

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