October 5, 2019

Beautiful Bigg's Killer Whales Beyond the Border!

Piper | Saturday, October 5, 2019 | M/V Sea Lion | 12:00 PM

Today started out so dreary but by the time we were gathering for our 12:00 Classic trip, the rain dried up and the sun was just starting to peak through the clouds, making for a beautiful day on the water!! Captain Sarah, Jacob, our Kayak Operations Manager, and I took a truly awesome and enthusiastic group of folks out into the Salish Sea today, heading northwest towards a report of Bigg’s killer whales which had been found swimming south near Moresby Island, part of the Canadian Southern Gulf archipelago.

After rounding the top of San Juan Island, we crossed the border in calm seas and began to spot fins in the distance as Captain Sarah slowed the boat. We could make out that there were two males and a host of females and juveniles and as we slowly approached the scene we could see that the reports had been correct, we were looking at two families of Bigg’s, the T18s and the T37As, for a total of 10 orcas!

We watched as these killer whales traveled south through Haro Strait, right along the US-Canada border! At one point half the group began socializing, we saw a tail lob and two spyhops from the back of the group, while the front carried on along their travel route. We’d been with the whales for a bit and were about to get our last looks when they went on a dive and when they popped back up, they were right next to the boat!

We switched off the engine ASAP and let them swim on by while we got some incredible looks at their different saddle patches and dorsal fins. We don’t normally get to see that much detail as we have to maintain a 200 meter distance from the sides of the whales, but sometimes they have a different plan! After the whales were 400 meters away from us, being inside their line of travel, we started the engine again and made our way back to US waters, where we searched for other wildlife!

As we moved into New Channel, on the north side of Spieden Island, we spotted a ton of harbor seals in the water and a bald eagle perched in the trees looking down on us all! We continued along into San Juan Channel on the north side of Flattop Island where the water was glassy and a ton of seabirds floated the day away, waiting for their next meal. In the mass of birds were a few harbor porpoises surfacing in the distance, the shy little cetaceans are wily but a joy to see nonetheless! Soon after we headed south again, arriving in Friday Harbor before we knew it! Such an amazing day!