June 18, 2021

7 Bigg's Killer Whales Porpoising around Lopez Island

Orcas traveling through the Salish Sea with Big Swells

Haleigh | M/V Osprey | June 18, 2021 | 12:30pm


Today’s wildlife viewing was quite exceptional. We departed from Friday Harbor heading East on an inter-island excursion. We navigated the channels of the Salish Sea with Koma Kulshan (aka Mount Baker) off of our port and Tahoma (aka Mount Rainier) a mound in the distance at 150 miles away! 


Nearing the port of Anacortes, our captain Gabe spotted the exhales of distant orcas about ½ mile off shore. The killer whales were swimming in smaller groups, all sporadically spread out from one another. Our total dorsal-fin count came out to at least 12 Bigg’s Killer Whales throughout our expedition. With three- to four-foot swells, we had incredible looks at many of these enormous individuals rising above the waters and submerging in their efforts to breathe. This action is known as porpoising! A group of 4 individuals off of our port were in formation trekking through the swells while individuals off of our starboard would distance themselves before heading back towards our boat again. We even had two individuals near close enough to get a real sense of their size just in time for the captain to shut the engine off. 


We waited for each group to peel away before heading south around Lopez Island through massive swells, giving everyone a fun ride back to the harbor. The adrenaline of such close orca encounters carried us into the harbor with guests leaving smiling from ear to ear!