June 16, 2021

7 Bigg’s Killer Whales Cruising During the Sunset

Transient Orcas and Mount Baker

Haleigh | M/V Osprey | June 16, 2021 | 5:30pm

 

Sunset is my favorite time of day. We depated from the harbor and into the warm, golden sunlight reflecting on the calm waters in San Juan Channel. Guests spotted the shiny, chocolate chip-shaped dorsal fins of harbor porpoise gliding through the surface as we traveled northbound along San Juan Island and into Haro Strait. As we approached the Northern tip of Stuart Island, we recognized the distant dorsal fins of reported orcas! We slowly approached to find 7 Bigg’s Killer Whales. In the group were two family units: T046B’s and T073C’s.

 

T046B “Raksha” (1988, F)

T046B2 “Akela” (2008, F)

T046B3 “Sedna” (2011, F)

T046B4 “Quiver” (2013, F)

T046B5 (2019, Unknown)

 

T073C “Vicky” (1998, F)

T073C1 “Gaba” (2021, Unknown)

 

Seeing these two family groups traveling together, led by mothers T046B and T073C, was a testament to their cooperation to hunt and the need to socialize! With our engine shut off, we listened to their deep exhales and watched as they glided through the waters traveling first towards Turn Point Lighthouse, a picturesque sight with Mount Baker (Koma Kulshan) jutted out of the background. The Bigg's killer whales turned northbound towards Boundary Pass, giving us a few last sights with the sunset light gleaming on their dorsal fin and saddle patch. As Captain Brian started up the engine to turn back, a few guests on board shrieked at the sight of a breaching calf! 

 

The wildlife viewing didn’t end there! As we traveled back towards Friday Harbor, we checked out the native harbor seals and Bald Eagles cohabitating with non-native Mouflon Sheep, Fallow Deer and Sika Deer all on Spieden Island. The glow of the sunlight beamed on the weathered, treeless southern hillsides of the island as we drove away. The excitement from the tour filled the boat’s atmosphere with guests laughing and families sharing pictures all the way home.