September 27, 2021
9 Biggs Killer Whales Amidst Ocean Swells and Rainbows
Abby | M/V Kestrel | 2pm | 9/27/2021
Captain Gabe and I haven’t been on Kestrel together for a long time, and for that reason we knew it was going to be a great day. We left the dock with the only sighting report of the day, which was a long shot… but we were determined to make it work. We zipped out of the harbor and headed north through San Juan Channel while just about every other operator went south. It was a windy day with a rainy forecast, but we knew we could beat the weather. We rounded Roche Harbor in Spieden Channel and made a beeline for Haro Strait to check the conditions. Gabe had a feeling that traveling around to the northern end of the island would yield us the best weather window for making it to our sighting report in Canadian waters.
We motored towards Victoria, B.C. through the fog and mist. We slowed down through Bayne’s Channel where the sky opened up with a little more sun. The water was glass. We took a quick minute to stretch our legs then headed out into the Strait of Juan De Fuca. Once we were parallel with Port Angeles (on the Olympic Peninsula), we saw the orcas.
Below are the individuals we saw in bold, with their nicknames, alphanumeric designation, birth year, and gender. Notice how only one individual between both of these matrilines was not present… that’s because that youngster has been traveling with his aunt (mom’s sister) and two cousins the past two weeks. He was probably excited to see them since they tend to spend a lot of their time in SE Alaska during the summer months, so he just ditched the rest of his family for a little while!
- Artemis T065A (1986, Female)
- Ooxjaa T065A2 (2004, Male)
- Amira T065A3 (2007, Gender Unknown)
- Ellifrit T065A4 (2011, Female)
- Elsie T065A5 (2014, Male)
- Callisto T065A6 (2018, Female)
- Loon T137 (1984, Female)
- Jack T137A (2002, Male)
- Tempest T137B (2006, Female)
- Wright T137D (2012, Female)
We only had a little time with these two family groups, but it was an amazing and spunky encounter as all of these individuals put on quite the show swimming past the boat! On our way back to the harbor, faces beamed with an orca afterglow while two ends of a rainbow poked out between the clouds. We experienced just about every bit of Pacific Northwest weather on this tour, but had an adventure making it out into the ocean swells to catch a glimpse of arguably the most incredible apex predators on the planet.