Got lucky first time out!
by Winston Rockwell
(Chehalis, WA )
Went on an orca-watching cruise on board the Chilkat Express out of Edmonds, back in 2016. I'd never been on a whale-watching cruise before, but had heard that once in a while, people would be treated to the sight of an orca breaching. Several people had told me that was rare, as they'd been on multiple cruises and never seen a breach.
Nonetheless, I was hopeful as I boarded the boat. I found the vessel to be surprisingly fast and comfortable, and the crew were friendly and knowledgeable. In just about an hour, were were idling along at the southern entrance to Haro Strait, watching a pod of orcas porpoising, surfacing to blow, and generally doing what orcas do.
I got numerous photos, but my favorites came when lo and behold, one of the orcas breached spectacularly, about 200 yards away. Fortunately, my camera was equipped with a 600mm lens, so I was able to capture the moment in reasonable detail, and getting those photos made my day!
To be lucky enough to see a breach on my first whale-watching tour was amazing... but on the way back, as we detoured nearer to Port Townsend to watch a pair of gray whales, I saw one of those huge creatures breach, less than a hundred yards astern of the boat! I couldn't get my camera up in time, and would have been shooting directly into the sun, but just seeing that majestic whale leap almost entirely out of the water, then crash back into the sea, was a simply amazing sight! To say I was thrilled would be an understatement!