June 13, 2018
Ahhhhhh, nothing like the T065As in the morning! | May 26, 2018 | 10:00am
[Sarah – 05/26/2018 – M/V Kestrel – 10:00am]
I love starting my mornings with a piping hot cup of coffee and looking at early whale reports. Sipping on my stiff mug of black coffee, I knew we were in for a treat on our morning trip on M/V Kestrel from Friday Harbor. One of my very favorite families of killer whales was in the area, and pretty close!
Captain Mike and I loaded up our group of enthusiastic guests and headed south out of the mouth of the harbor, looking for wildlife. We started by swinging past Shark Reef on Lopez Island to check out the amazing kelp forests and incredible harbor seal haul outs on the rocky outcroppings. We caught glimpses of bald eagles soaring in the air overhead, and heard the piercing shrill call of a pair of black oystercatchers on the rocks. We pressed further south towards Whale Rocks in the middle of Cattle Pass, finding a hoard of vociferous Steller’s sea lions. We watched the massive pinnipeds splash in the waters around the rocks, and marveled at the large individuals up on the haul out when all of a sudden… KWOOF! Killer whales! A family of killer whales, known as the T065As, popped up right behind the boat, heading right for the clueless sea lions! Seeming to decide better of the hunt, the orcas left the sea lions alone and continued on their way south.
We usually identify groups of killer whales based on the mother. The T065As are lead by mom T065A “Fingers” and her now five kiddos… T065A2 “Ooxjaa,” T065A3 “Amira,” T065A4 “Ellifrit,” T065A5, and the youngest member of the Bigg’s killer whale population, 1.5 month old T065A6! T065A is an incredible mother, and incredible hunter! It has been amazing to get to know her and her family over the last few years.
After an amazing encounter with the killer whales we went in search of some other wildlife around Church Rock and the south end of Lopez Island. We took a great look at the bald eagle nest on Long Island before heading back into San Juan Channel. We stopped at Goose Island to see the sea birds and amazing upwelling before searching for some harbor porpoises!