August 28, 2021

Bigg's Killer Whale Brothers Hunting by Discovery Island

Abby | M/V Kestrel | 2pm | 8/28/2021

Captain Eric and I headed south again for our second trip of the day, word of two teenagers still hunting around the Chain Islets in between Discovery Island and Oak Bay in Canadian waters. We first stopped for a “rock sausage” extravaganza. There were harbor seals aplenty on our way through San Juan Channel, their big globular eyes watching us drift past their rocky haul-out site.

Once we crossed the glassy Strait of Juan De Fuca, we set eyes on the stealthy teenage orcas that were hunting around the many rocks that jutted out from the sea. Yelnats, T060C, was the first one spotted, his lengthy dorsal fin wobbling out of the water like an awkward boy going through those dreaded pubescent years. Onca, T060D, was not far behind. He trailed his brother like a child looking for validation from the older sibling.

Below is an outline of the family they normally travel with, although I think these two young boys were being rebellious… Like when we were all teenagers trying to sneak out of the house for a cheeky night on the town:

  • Panthera T060 (Female, 1980)
    • Yelnats T060C (Male, 2001)
    • Onca T060D (Male, 2004)
    • Lynx T060E (Male, 2008)
    • Tigris T060F (Female, 2012)

We watched these two zig and zag through the rocks, as we seemingly all yelled subconsciously at the “rock sausages” to swim seal, swim! Although let’s be honest; we all wanted to see a plump seal sausage fly through the air…

We spent a great deal of time with these two, longer than our schedule allowed. It was highly worth it as by the end of our time we saw Yelnats, T060C, move through such shallow rocky water that he almost looked like he was hobbling over the shallows because he was far bigger than anticipated. As if he didn’t already look clumsy enough, I’m sure he was delighted to know that we were the only ones watching, instead of some orca of romantic interest…

Smiles beamed as we flew over a mirror back to the harbor, pink salmon leaping, as they do, out of the water. It was finally the end of a thrilling afternoon, reminding us all of our teenage years, thankful we aren’t as awkward as Yelnats.