June 8, 2021

5 Bigg’s Killer Whales Zipping Through the Salish Sea

Transient Orcas traveling in the Salish Sea

Haleigh | M/V Osprey | 06/08/2021 | 12:30pm

Today’s trip was spectacular! We departed North out of Friday Harbor through San Juan Channel. We traveled into President Channel where we spotted vessels gathered near the Canadian Border and Patos Island. The currents were flowing and rippling due to active upwelling - the process of nutrient-rich, cold water being pushed from the seafloor up towards the surface. The Salish Sea is full of phytoplankton and nutrients that support the biodiversity we see out here. Within these rapidly-moving waters, we got our first sights of five Bigg’s Killer Whales. They can be identified as the Mother T46B (Female, 1988) and her calves T46B2 (Female, 2008), T46B3 (Female, 2011), T46B4 (Female, 2013) and T46B6 (Unknown, 2019). They were gliding through the water as we positioned ourselves, swimming in unison heading north. As they entered a more rapidly-flowing part of the water, they began to pick up speed. After a dive, they resurfaced in a more spread-out formation, heading in opposite directions before eventually circling back around to one another. The nutrient-rich waters are the reason we saw harbor porpoises moving around, too! Eventually, these Bigg’s Killer Whales decided it was time to move on, heading back down South in unison again. We circled back around, stopping to admire harbor seals hauled out on a rocky shoreline near Waldron Island before making our way back to Friday Harbor. There’s nothing better than spending sunny days on the water in the Salish Sea!