June 20, 2022

Big Mama, Biggs Killer Whales and a Big Surprise!

Maxx K. | 06/20/2022 | M/V Kestrel | 2:00pm

    It took next to no time for Kestrel to fly into the Juan de Fuca today. The sea was just choppy enough to spice up our travels a little bit as we raced off to meet Big Mama and her calf over Hein bank. Big Mama is probably the coolest Humpback whale that I’ve ever met. She’s a pioneer to start, being one of the first humpbacks observed here during the Humpback Comeback back in 1997. Since then she returns here year after year and has returned with at least seven children, who then continue to come back here themselves.What a cool whale! I need to read her memoir. 

    The surfaced in unison off our port several times before we carried onward towards murmurings of some Bigg’s Killer whales beyond the Chatham Islands off Victoria. We had heard rumors that these whales were the T049As. T049A is a pretty stellar mom too! AND A NEW MOM! Five whales surfaced: T049A, T049A1, T049A3, T049A4, T049A5 (Nan, Naoh, Nat, Neptune, Nebula). Then a fresh yellow face appeared! T049A6 must’ve been born this year, its little yellow body giving away its young age. They haven't had enough time to build up a thick layer of blubber and fat yet so blood vessels sitting closer to the surface give their skin a yellow hue. 

    This little nugget was so tiny too! It always seemed to surface just before the rest of the fam, perhaps because it can't hold its breath quite as long? It’s also a bit more awkward, launching its full body out of the water with each breath as opposed to the more graceful and intentional emergence of her older siblings and mom. 

    We left the family as they made their way into the Haro Strait. We moved off towards home, hugging the coastline and admiring a pair of bald eagles and all the incredible homes I can only dream of living in. We made only one brief stop to admire a shoal of harbor seals before turning into Friday Harbor where we completed our insane journey!