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Where can I best see Orca whales in the wild?

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Feb 12th, 2014, 08:06 PM
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Where can I best see Orca whales in the wild?

After seeing "Blackfish" I am determined to see these magnificent creatures if I have to take a whale watching cruise every day. I was thinking of doing a waterfront vacation rental in the Seattle area? I need help figuring out what time of year is the most optimal and where I am most likely to see them, as well as choosing a boat company that has a good reputation.

l know Hawaii is also a possibility to see grey whales, but Orca would be my first choice.
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Feb 12th, 2014, 08:32 PM
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There were plenty of them in Alaska...
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Feb 12th, 2014, 09:05 PM
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Alaska. We saw tons in July on Resurrection Bay near Seward. I have also heard to go when the salmon are running in the Northwest and BC as the orcas are waiting for them.
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Feb 12th, 2014, 09:22 PM
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Off the coast of Maui is excellent whale watching January thru March. You will see lots of above water action. However they are humpbacks not orcas. They are spectacular. You can see them at a distance from shore or close up from a tour boat.
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Feb 12th, 2014, 10:47 PM
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I have friends who are in Mexico right now- posting amazing whale encounters just today- not Orcas though- I would suggest San Juan Islands for Orcas- not sure best time of year but you can google.

I have a friend who was there last summer on a kayak trip- whale dived under her kayak and came up on the other side- try a kayak trip in the San Juans- you don't have to be an expert- it was a first kayak trip for my friend
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Feb 12th, 2014, 10:53 PM
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link to San Juan orca watching

http://orcawhalewatch.com/FAQ.html
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Feb 13th, 2014, 04:29 AM
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We took the car ferry back from Vancouver Island - through the San Juan Islands - and were next to a pod of Killer Whales for over 15 minutes. They did not seem to be bothered by the big car ferry - but more by the line of charter boats that were lined up along the other side of the pod's path.

They had three male on point - one in the front - the other in the rear - and the third on the side nearest the charter boats.

And for seemingly no reason - all of a sudden they submerged and were gone, but what a treat for the time they were alongside us.
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Feb 13th, 2014, 04:56 AM
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Great info everybody! OMG can you imagine being on a kayak up close like that. Car ferry? How lucky can you get. I am also looking into vacation rentals in the San Juan islands where I can be next to the water and watch for them from our deck.
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Feb 13th, 2014, 08:18 AM
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on our Kenai Fjords cruise, off the coast of Alaska, I was taking pictures of a pod of orcas, when one of them came right up to the boat and dived under it, spouting on me briefly before it went under. Yup...I got spit on by a killer whale. it was awesome
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Feb 13th, 2014, 02:08 PM
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I am soooo jealous. I have to experience once in my life. Bucket list.
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Feb 13th, 2014, 03:07 PM
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Sunburn - 2 years ago we went down to Magdalena Bay in Baja and saw the mother and baby grey whales. So cool! The babies would come right up to the panga and stick their heads out of the water. I got to touch a wild baby whale!
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Feb 13th, 2014, 03:28 PM
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Michelle - my wife drove one of the vans for the SD Natural History museum from here down to Conception Bay was it (2/3rds of the way down the Baja Peninsula) - and had the same type of great experience. She said the baby whales "breath" smelled like fish.
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Feb 13th, 2014, 03:36 PM
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MichelleY- I have friends who were at Magdalena Bay yesterday- posted amazing pictures on Facebook. Got a great pic of a whale that was "spy hopping." Whales were beside the boat, under the boat- was so envious I was not there to see.

One of my favorite whale experiences was in Hawaii on a whale watch- we got to observe a "competition" pod in action- which means about 8 males were after a female. They were pushing each other around and they would leap out of the water and make a loud noise like they were screaming- then they would take off after the female again- amazing to watch. Had to leave before we found out whether the female ever let herself be caught.

The other event I loved was watching humpbacks "bubble net feeding" in Alaska. You tube it for some amazing videos
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Feb 13th, 2014, 04:28 PM
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I had exactly the same experience as Tomsd, only we were going from San Juan Island to Vancouver Island. The ferry pilot, by law, killed the throttle when he saw the orcas, and for 15 - 20 minutes, we had a much better show than the whale-watching boats.
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Feb 13th, 2014, 04:33 PM
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Maybe I'll just stay out on SJ Island and take the ferry back and forth all day
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Feb 13th, 2014, 04:34 PM
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Maybe I'll just stay out on SJ Island and take the ferry back and forth all day
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Feb 13th, 2014, 04:38 PM
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Just watched that on YouTube - so cool! Perhaps I should be looking for humpback whales instead?
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Feb 13th, 2014, 05:00 PM
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The humpbacks are the only ones to do the bubble net feeding- I think any day you can see any type of whale, its a good day.

It seems to me the whales in Hawaii and Mexico are the most playful- lots of breaching, tail slapping and putting on a show - but they are all beautiful
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Feb 13th, 2014, 05:42 PM
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Have seen the in Alaska and in Washington. I cannot imagine a tour being better than James Maya on San Juan Islands. You are not guaranteed a sighting, but I think you are likely to see them about 95% of the time. I think July and August are probably best. We went with him 2 years ago and saw whales nearly the entire 4 hours we were out. Saw the entire J-Pod including a new born. He and his naturalist on board can identify every single whale in every pod as if it were someone they have known there whole life. No matter where you go, make sure you go on a small boat with only a few people. I think he limits his to 6 or 8. Kayaking would be awesome too, but you are likely to only see them for a few minutes instead of a few hours. We are going with him again in late July this year.


In Alaska you could encounter humpbacks or orcas(and even occasionally both at the same time). I'm not sure which one I enjoyed seeing most.


Here is a link to my photos/trip report of Seattle and area with many photos of the whales.
http://www.fodors.com/community/unit...e-watching.cfm

Read the trip reports on Tripadvisor and Yelp. Several good tours in SJ Islands.
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Feb 13th, 2014, 05:46 PM
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Probably better from this link
http://share.shutterfly.com/action/w...0IatW7FqybsWeV

whales start on photo #109
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