September 8, 2021

20 Biggs Killer Whales

Abby | M/V Kestrel | 2pm | 9/8/2021

Captain Solan and I cruised out of the harbor with the intention of viewing what is known as a “T-Party,” where several families of transient, or Biggs, killer whales were playfully interacting with one another. We zipped in between Shaw and Lopez Island, through Obstruction Pass, and headed North through the Rosario Strait before seeing our first exhalations and dorsal fins dotting the surface of the water.

Below is a list of the matrilines we were viewing, main bullet points indicating the matriarch (or more notably, the mother in a specific family group) with all her offspring in order of birth and alphanumeric identification below her. I couldn’t believe we saw individuals from four family groups! T-parties are my favorite, but they are also rare for our tours. Those in bold are the individuals we saw today, and we know this by looking specifically at their dorsal fins and saddle patches.

  • Volker T037A (Female, 1994)
    • Inyo T037A1 (Gender Unknown, 2007)—Not present today
    • Inky T037A2 (Male, 2009)
    • Spinnaker T037A3 (Male, 2013)
    • Crinkle T037A4 (Gender Unknown, 2015)
    • New Calf! (Gender Unknown, 2019)
  • Artemis T065A (1986, Female)
    • T065A2 (2004, Male)
    • T065A3 (2007, Gender Unknown)
    • T065A4 (2011, Female)
    • T065A5 (2014, Male)
    • T065A6 (2018, Female)
  • Chunk T065B (1993, Female)
    • Birdsall T065B1 (2011, Female)
    • New Calf! T065B2 (2019, Gender Unknown)
  • Panthera T060 (Female, 1980)—Not present today
    • Yelnats T060C (Male, 2001)
    • Onca T060D (Male, 2004)
    • Lynx T060E (Male, 2008)—Not present today
    • Tigris T060F (Female, 2012)—Not Present today

Upon leaving the scene of this playful bunch, Solan and I were informed that another family group was nearby, and on our way back to the harbor! I have never known Solan and I to pass up an opportunity to see another family group… Once again, here is that family:

  • Esperanza T018 (1955, Female)
    • Nootka T019 (1965, Female)
      • T019B Galiano (1995, Male)
      • T019C Spouter (2001, Male)

As you can see, this was a three-generational family! I can’t think of any tour this entire season where we’ve had this much diversity in the ages, families, and individuals that we saw today! I know this encounter will be the highlight of my summer.