Orcas!

I've been on many a whale-watching trip but somehow the killer whales never appear.  In fact, I recently announced that I was going on a killer whale-watching trip in the Puget Sound and I got a half-dozen "thank you!" emails from some Seattle-area gray whale packs as well as a coupon for a free dinner at Elliot's On The Pier from Greenpeace.

Well, this time it didn't happen that way; here are a few snaps of a few orcas of the "transient" kind, which is a nice name for "killer whales who eat seals, dolphins and whales" instead of the "resident" whales, which eat fish. 

A Steller's seal lion.  Apparently Steller, Dahl and Humbolt were the 19th century naturalists with the biggest egos on the planet, as everything on the west coast seems named after them.  These guys are supposed to be one bad customer, predator-wise.  Look at that killer eye, I tell you!

This is a terrible picture taken from about a zillion yards away on a rocking boat with clouds overhead of an adult Bald Eagle, but it's the first I've ever taken.

On a previous trip, I got another picture from a zillion yards away -- oops, sorry, I was in Victoria, I mean a zillion meters away -- of an immature bald eagle from a rocking boat.  Interesting colors!

This is a reminder that when you think, "hey, I'm just going to shoot whales, I can just bring the 400 mm prime -- I mean, it's not like they're going to come up next to me," you should hit yourself on the head with something heavy.  Thank god the 400 mm focuses at nine feet.  This is a reduction of a full frame Canon 1d Mk IV image, 4896x3264 pixels.  If my brains had been functioning and I'd brought the 100-400 ("nah, it's an extra pound and a half of weight, who needs that?" I'd have had some interesting shots of the orca mother and two sons slaughtering a Dahl's Porpoise.  And they'd be crisper, as I would have had image stabilization.  Ah well.

The closest I got to a picture of an orca face.  This is Mom, submerging as she approaches us.  Again, this was a friggin' full frame picture.  Again, arrgh.

Mostly it was cloudy but the sun was out for a bit -- you can see this here as you can see the whale's white pigment through the green water.

This shot is terrible because of the clouds but if you look to the right you can see the remains of the porpoise.  Hey, they don't call 'em killer whales for nothing.

Okay, that was the sad picture, let's leave with a happy picture -- harbor seals!  Gulls!  This is an island that apparently has lost about 70 percent of its surface in the past 100 years just from wind erosion.  (Relax, greenies, it's not our fault, we didn't do it, it's just one of those "evolving earth" things.  No need to start a fund or anything.)  The building part you can see is from some derelict equipment from (if I recall right) some weather instruments.  Again, cloudy, pitching boat, that sort of thing.

This was on a trip with the "Victoria Clipper" folks, a trip that left Seattle Harbor, went to a place called Friday Bay, took us whale watching and then returned us to Seattle.  It was a long day but quite a bit of fun and they surely know where to find orcas!