May 19, 2016

The best day ever.... Also known as 20+ Bigg's killer whales and a Humpback too just north of San Juan Island

T011A Bull transient killer whale

I do not take top five lists lightly. If I say a trip is easily in my top five of all time, you can be certain that it is truly special. Today was one of those days.

Captain Mike and I had an amazing day with our guests up in the Strait of Georgia and Boundary Pass watching Bigg’s killer whales and a lovely humpback whale as well! We started the day of encounters with the T123s traveling east in the Strait of Georgia. This family, consisting of three individuals (Mom T123 and kiddos T123A and T123B), is one of our regulars around these parts. We often see them hunting harbor seals and porpoises around the San Juan Islands. After watching the small family for about 30 minutes, we moseyed south to the tidal rip between the Strait and Boundary Pass where we found a humpback whale. As we watched, the huge mammal surfaced and fluked, bringing its giant tail above the water, giving us an awesome look at the unique markings underneath.

While we watching the humpback Captain Mike got word that there was a massive group of Bigg’s killer whales just south of us moving North through Boundary Pass. These marine-mammal eating whales usually travel in small groups of 5-6 individuals. We saw a social gathering of at least 20 individuals. Some of my very favorite animals were present, including the T065A family, T011 and her adult son T011A, as well as two of my new favorite males T093 (estimated birthdate <1963) and T097. We watched as the whales rolled around in the surf and made at least two kills, which they shared cooperatively. We also got a chance to see the Center for Whale Research vessel out collecting data. This amazing organization does such importanat work in monitoring our whale populations in the area. The whales were roly-poly and super close to shore at the base of Monarch Head on Saturna Island throughout most of our encounter.

We had just the best day… I haven’t stopped smiling yet!