July 4, 2021

13 Bigg's Killer Whales Playing Hide and Seek

Today was by far the best orca encounter of my life. OF MY LIFE, Y’ALL!


Captain Pete and I motored out of the harbor on M/V Sea Lion with the intention of viewing some Bigg’s killer whales that were rumored to be near the Canadian border. We zipped north through San Juan Channel, into Spieden Channel, and headed just west of Stuart Island. 13 Bigg’s killer whales, in all their joyous glory, greeted us with multiple spy hops, tail slaps, and natural curiosity. Not only did we have what we like to call a “T-party,” but we had the most incredible amount of surface action I have ever witnessed with Bigg’s killer whales. Exhales could be heard and echoed in the distance, while a combination of breaching and sunlight created a small stretch of rainbow among the lingering mist.


In total, we had three matrilines in our midst: the T034’s, T037’s, and T065A’s. I have separated out the three family groups below, organized the same way our ID catalogs organize them; oldest females are the predominant bullet point, with offspring listed below them. The T037’s, as can be noted below, have three generations in their matriline.


  • T034 (1969, Female)
    • T034A (2007, Female)
    • T034B (2017, Gender Unknown)
  • T037 (1979, Female)
    • T037B (1998, Female)
      • T037B1 (2012, Male)
      • T037B2 (2017, Gender Unknown)
  • T065A (1986, Female)
    • T065A2 (2004, Male)
    • T065A3 (2007, Gender Unknown)
    • T065A4 (2011, Female)
    • T065A5 (2014, Male)
    • T065A6 (2018, Female)


Overall, we had a phenomenal trip, and by far the best orca viewing I have ever seen. We cheered, laughed, and exchanged stories about what the orcas could have been communicating with one another. A young girl on my trip named Liv said she thought they were playing hide and seek. I will forever agree with her.



Filed by:

Marine Naturalist & Reservations


Sea Lion


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