July 19, 2021

23 Bigg’s Killer Whales in the Strait of Juan de Fuca

Bigg's Killer Whales playing in the Strait

Haleigh | M/V Sea Lion | July 19, 2021 | 10:00am

 

Our Monday morning classic whale watch trip was an experience to beat. Reports of Bigg’s Killer Whales in the Strait of Juan de Fuca guided our plans to head southbound through San Juan Channel. We traveled through Cattle Pass and east around Lopez Island. Pointed towards Smith Island, we saw our first exhales of some Bigg’s Killer Whales. These orcas were dispersed within a 400-yard range. We would see exhales and dorsal fins shooting up at our 11 o’clock, followed by porpoising orcas at our 2 o’clock. We finally got a count of 23 Bigg’s Killer Whales within the vicinity! These were the families we spotted:

 

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)

 

T065A “Artemis” (F, 1986)

T065A2 “Ooxjaa” (M, 2004)

T065A3 “Amira” (M, 2007)

T065A4 “Ellifrit” (F, 2011)

T065A5 “Elsie” (M, 2014)

T065A6 “Castillo” (F, 2018)

 

T137 “Loon” (F, 1984)

T137A “Jack” (M, 2002)

T137B “Tempest” (F, 2006)

T137D “Wright” (F, 2012)

 

T034 “Grace” (F, ~1969)

T034A “Pachamama” (F, 2007)

T034A1 N/A (Unknown, 2019)

T034B “Sonder” (Unknown, 2017)

 

Bigg’s Killer Whales meeting up and traveling together could be for a number of reasons. They’re extremely social, so meeting up to have play dates for the younger calves, socializing amongst the elders, or just to travel together are all possibilities for why we would see this many orcas all together! It was a special sight to see, and one that we will all remember!