May 27, 2021

8 Bigg's Killer Whales by Lime Kiln State Park!

Abby | Kestrel | 5/27/2021

We suited up for our tour, the promise of a typical Washington drizzle looming off in the distance. The tide was at its lowest point, more so than I had ever seen, driving the crustaceans and nudibranchs lower on the pilings than they cared to travel. We set off on the zodiac, reports coming in about a Bigg’s killer whale family heading North on the western side of San Juan Island. As we zipped away from the harbor, heading South through San Juan Channel, we saw some Steller’s sea lions and harbor seals gracefully dancing in the water at Whale Rocks.

Upon our arrival into the Strait of Juan De Fuca past Cattle Point Lighthouse, the sea was calm. We headed North into Haro Strait, following the rocky shoreline on the western side of the island, until a six-foot dorsal fin emerged from the surface of the water. After that, five more. It was the T65A’s, traveling in typical orca fashion, mum leading the pod. We followed parallel all the way from Lime Kiln to the northern end of San Juan Island. Time slipped from us all amidst the breath of Artemis (T65A, 1986, Female) and her offspring; Ooxjaa (T65A2, 2004, Male), Amira (T65A3, 2007, Gender Unknown), Ellifrit (T65A4, 2011, Female), Elsie (T65A5, 2014, Male), and Callisto (T65A6, 2018, Female).

When we reached Henry Island, the T65A’s joined Asja (T77, 1981, Female) and  T77E (2016, Gender Unknown). There appeared to be some nuzzling interactions upon these groups once together, and they continued up the shoreline, all eight of them together. We cut the engine to hear their exhales once more before we set off into the distance.

Upon leaving the orcas, we made our way to Speiden Island where we saw mouflon sheep, a fallow deer, a Steller’s sea lion, and two bald eagles convening next to each other on a grassy knoll.

An orca afterglow surrounded the entirety of the boat. The rain finally let up as we pulled back into the harbor, the nutrient-rich waters calming, music steady and peaceful, travels into our memories from today’s Adventure Tour, long.