July 20, 2021

2 Families of Bigg’s Killer Whale Feeding along Orcas Island

Bigg's Killer whales playing

Haleigh | M/V Sea Lion | July 20, 2021 | 2:00pm

 

For our afternoon Classic whale watching trip, the boat full of excited passengers was just the beginning to a great day! We headed inter-island to follow a report of some Bigg’s Killer Whales in Rosario Strait. Bigg’s Killer Whales are a marine mammal-eating ecotype found in the Salish Sea. They primarily feed on Harbor Seals, though will also hunt Harbor Porpoise, sea lions, and the occasional baleen whale calf. Due to the abundance of marine mammals, Bigg’s Killer Whales spend lots of time here foraging, socializing, and raising their young calves. By the time we passed by Lopez Island, Shaw Island, Blakely Island, and into Peavine Pass, we had our eyes on orcas. One family was hugging the north end of Blakely before swiftly crossing the pass and moved north towards Obstruction Pass. Another family was seen continuing up Rosario Strait. We stuck with the family that was identified as the the T137’s.

 

T137 “Loon” (F, 1984)

T137A “Jack” (M, 2002)

T137B “Tempest” (F, 2006)

T137D “Wright” (F, 2012)

 

Jack, the eldest of Loon and large male in the group, has a 6-foot tall dorsal fin with two nicks in it. The four of them traveled together while hugging the Orcas Island shoreline tightly. Swimming in sometimes 10-feet of water, they were seen lunging and causing a lot of disturbances in the water, indicating they may have been feeding! Eventually, we had another family return towards the T137’s who we later identified as the T37A’s.

 

T037 “Rocky III” (F, 1979)

T037A “Volker” (F, 1994)

T037A1 “Inyo” (Unknown, 2007)

T037A2 “Inky” (Male, 2009)

T037A3 “Spinnaker” (Male, 2013)

T037A4 “Crinkle” (Unknown, 2015)

T037A5 N/A (Unknown, 2019)

 

Not long after joining together, they all were back at it again, lunging, splashing and criss-crossing dorsal fins as they likely hunted and shared another prey. The playful behavior that followed this successful hunt included some rolling around, tail slaps, and even a spy-hop! Spending time with these social families is one of the best ways to understand them and view them as sentient, social beings. We’re always grateful for awesome orca days like today!