July 27, 2021

Amber skies, flat seas and Bigg’s Killer Whales

Bigg's Killer Whales


Maxx K. | M/V Osprey | 07/27/2021 | 5:30pm

    Osprey left Friday Harbor heading north this evening. Our morning trip left a family of Bigg’s Killer Whales off Lime Kiln on the west coast of San Juan Island. A mere three hours later this same family was reported up and over Orcas Island, approaching Sucia Island. It took us a little over 40 minutes to reach them: 

T037A Volker (1994, F)

T037A1 Inyo (2007, M)

T037A2 Inky (2009, —)

T037A3 Spinnaker (2013, —)

T037A4 Crinkle (2015, —)

T037A5 — (2019, —) 

This incredible family had moved well over 20 miles and into Boundary Pass. They zigzagged initially, surfacing at one o’clock then again several minutes later at eleven. While this unpredictability might typically pose a challenge to spotting whales today’s conditions were perfect. 

    We might as well have been on a lake tonight. The water beneath us was glass allowing us to see for miles on all sides. When the family surfaced again they were off our port, perfectly in line with mount Baker which sat proudly over the islands. 

    Every now and again Crinkle would surface. While all of the Bigg’s whales are recognizable based on often subtle scars and notches on their dorsal fins and saddle patches, these nuisances can be difficult to notice without a good photo or binoculars. Crinkle though is particularly unique. Crinkle’s dorsal fin is bent to the side, “crinkled over” if you will. I’m unsure why this might be the case but this physical peculiarity makes this whale instantly recognizable. 

    We watched Crinkle and the family of Bigg’s Killer Whales for fifteen more minutes before heading back to Friday Harbor, thus completing perhaps the most beautiful night I’ve had out here to date.