June 18, 2022

Bigg’s Killer Whales in Rosario Strait

Haleigh | M/V Sea Lion | June 18, 2022 | 12:30 pm

 

Around the Salish Sea, we’ve experienced a variety of whales throughout these waters. Humpback Whales have returned for the summer feeding season in huge numbers. The surprising appearance of Southern Resident Killer Whales in May drew all islanders to the west side to catch a glimpse in admiration. Following their departure came a killer whale lull, and now we’re seeing our Bigg’s Killer Whale families all around the islands!

 

For our Saturday Classic Whale Watch, we departed out of Roche Harbor following reports of Bigg’s Killer Whales east of Orcas Island. The long journey toured us through Spieden channel, around the Wasp Islands, into the inner islands, and finally up and around Orcas Island. The family was quickly making their way northbound when we caught sight of them. After a long dive, they had reappeared along the shoreline of Clark and Barnes Island. Some lunges through the water indicated feeding behavior. The large male, Stanley (T123A), seemed to be leading the hunt. His mother, Sidney (T123), was letting the two youngest calves, Lucky (T123C) and Darcy (T123D), follow big brother. The wafting smell of fresh cut cantaloupe indicated it was a successful hunt of a Harbor Seal! Observing this family group in their element traveling and hunting as a united foursome gives us an appreciation for the competence and emotional intelligence found in wildlife species. 

After departing, we found a Steller’s Sea Lion taking a nap on a buoy, unphased by us as we drove by. We completed our circumnavigation of Orcas Island taking the north channel back towards Roche Harbor, watching Harbor Porpoises passing by and admiring the islands.