June 3, 2022

Bigg’s Killer Whale “Ooxjaa” and friends in the Strait of Juan de Fuca

Lauren | M/V Kestrel | 6.3.2022 | 2:00 PM

Grey skies and wet exposure suits were in our future today as M/V Kestrel left the dock for our Adventure Whale Watch & Wildlife Tour. Despite the rain, I was in fantastic spirits after captain Eric told me where we were going… One of my favorite Bigg’s killer whale families, the T065A’s were spotted in the Strait of Juan de Fuca! This curious bunch is always a delight to observe. This family of six was reported to be traveling alongside members of the T064B’s. We took a right out of Friday Harbor and zoomed down San Juan Channel. Thankfully, just after entering Cattle Pass, the rain started to let up. Once on scene with these whales, we were greeted by some exciting surface behavior! After witnessing a few tail lobs, we were thrilled to observe a breaching killer whale! This whale did multiple side breaches, one right after the other.  

One of the things I love most about M/V Kestrel is how close the boat sits to the water line. Looking out, being in eyeline view with an orca is an experience like no other. T065A2 “Ooxjaa” wasn’t traveling with the rest of his family, he was off serval hundreds yards away, doing his own thing… as a typical 18-year-old will do. We puttered over to “Ooxjaa” to say hello before heading on our way. 

We made a quick stop at Whale Rocks and were elated to find two picturesque bald eagles perched up on the top of the rocks. We were there to view some Steller’s Sea Lions and ended up spotting a California Sea Lion in the bunch! We see California Sea Lions here occasionally, but it’s a pretty rare sight. We then drifted over to Goose Island to get looks at the double crested cormorants nesting site.  

As we cruised by Griffin Bay towards Friday Harbor, Captain Michael and I saw something neither of us had ever seen before… a BREACHING harbor porpoise. Porpoise do not breach nearly as often as their dolphin cousins, so it was quite the site to see. This trip was chock-full of rain, rarities, and remarkable wildlife!