Seattle–Whale Watching in the Pacific Northwest

By far the coolest thing I did was go whale watching.

It was a cloudy rainy day—only the second of my trip—and I hopped on a clipper boat, that took me out to the San Juans and then out to the seas to follow some whale, before heading back to Seattle. Aside from the breathtaking scenery—more on that later—it is incredibly stunning to see wildlife in the wild.

I grew up in Colorado, where deer and elk, foxes and rabbits, even the occasional bear were common place (in fact a mountain lion sighting when I was 10 forced us inside during recess). But, there’s nothing quite like being on the water and in more remote reaches and watching animals in their natural, rather than zoo designed faux-natural environment.

We were lucky enough to see come across four or five Orcas hunting in the waters near the Canadian border. Let me start by saying without a high quality zoom lens, photographing moving whales is not easy, so I apologize in the whales are hard to see–look for the fins! Being early in the season and the Orcas being on the hunt, we didn’t have the opportunity to watch them jump out of the water in a breach, but they were still stunning as we watched their backs and fins come in and out at the surface. What was shocking was how fast they move and—after having them suddenly appear hundreds of yards away—just how far they can dive under the water. They’re beautiful animals.

In addition to watching the whales on the top of the boat with the cold wind whipping my face dry, we also had the opportunity to see several porpoises, seals, sea lions, and bald eagles. It was a stop at two small islands on the way back to Seattle that probably was the most amazing of the whole journey. Numerous sea lions sat barking on the rocks—we were close enough we could easily hear them—along with two bald eagles. According to the naturalist on the ship it was a very rare occurrence to see that many sea lions in one place, let along two bald eagles on the same small island. The bald eagles made all the more special, after already seeing two early in the day. Four bald eagles in one day, pretty magical.

Several people on the boat complained they didn’t feel like we were seeing enough wildlife and were disappointed that the whales didn’t jump out of the water. I couldn’t believe they were so upset, I mean it’s not every day you get to see so much nature and so many animals purely enjoying their natural habitat.

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Two bald eagles (one on either end) and many sea lions. 
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Sea Lions. The Animals could be heard barking from the boat.
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Bald Eagle to the right. It’s a rare sight to see two in one place.
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An Orca Whale hunting
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Fins of two Orca whales. At least five were spotted together.
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Orca Whale. The animals can dive more than 300 feet at once.

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At one point the Orcas started to swim right towards our boat.

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