June 19, 2019

Bigg's Killer Whale and Humpback North of San Juan Island!

Piper | Wednesday, June 19, 2019 | M/V Sea Lion | 12:00 PM

Today was a bit of a blustery day in the Salish Sea, but Captain Gabe, Laura, and I had an awesome group of folks on the Sea Lion and we headed north into San Juan Channel on the lookout for all sorts of wildlife! There was a report of a lone male Bigg’s killer whale in Canadian waters so we headed that way and spied a bald eagle in the trees on Spieden Island and some harbor porpoises nearby!

We arrived on scene shortly after and slowed our boat to decrease our vessel noise while we viewed this whale. The lone male, T124C, was swimming down Satellite Channel and we watched as he surfaced for air, his big dorsal fin cutting up through the water.

Generally male orcas in the Salish Sea swim with their moms for their entire lives, but this fella swims by himself or with other groups for short amounts of time. T124C is a 27-year-old; his mom is still alive and swims with his little brother and T124C is occasionally seen swimming with them but is sometimes just an independent dude!

We watched this guy for a bit and then headed south again and came across a humpback whale swimming around Boundary Pass! We watched this humpback go through a few rounds of surfacing, fluking as it went down for deep dives. We saw that this whale had a mostly black tail, meaning it is likely what we call a BCX whale, meaning that in the catalogue, its number begins with BCX, BC for British Columbia, and X meaning his tail has 0-20% white pigmentation. This method of numbering the animals helps us to identify them faster based on that pigmentation and scarring on the tail fluke!

After a while we headed out and went back through Spieden Channel, this time checking out a variety of harbor seals hauled out on the rocky shoreline. While we were stopped checking out these little rock sausages, we saw two pairs of bald eagles, one perched and one set flying, entangled in each other’s talons! Quite the interaction! We continued back along the south coast of Spieden before heading into Friday Harbor, another great day on the water!