April 19, 2021

Bigg's Killer Whale Family Milling by Matia Island

Bigg's Killer Whale Family

Olivia | M/V Sea Lion | April 19th, 2021 | 13:00

Shortly after departing the dock, we received word of some Killer Whale reports northeast of Orcas Island. We immediately started heading that way north around the islands, passing lots of wildlife along the way such as harlequin ducks, rhinoceros auklets, pigeon guillemots, cormorants, Harbor Seals, and swimming Steller’s Sea Lions. About halfway between Barnes and Matia Islands, we started to see three spouts of Bigg’s Killer Whales, slowly traveling!

These dorsal fins were a familiar sight to us encompassing a family group we see visit our waters every summer- the T065B’s! Bigg’s Killer Whales often travel in small family groups to essentially be sneakier with their more intelligent prey, instead of their entire pod like the Southern Residents do. This family was a mother named “Chunk” born in 1993 with her two kiddos in tow- “Birdsall” a male born in 2011 (T065B1) and “Nettle” born in 2019 (T065B2), who has yet to be confirmed on gender.

We hung out with this serene family for about 20 minutes as the only boat on scene taking in the sparkling spouts, the shiny black dorsal fins, and the tight knit family rolling through the water together. After taking in one last view of this family before they slipped behind Matia Island, we slowly departed west to head back towards the harbor. Despite being a long trip to the east, we always find it worth it when we can spend time with Bigg’s Killer Whales-especially on warm, beautiful spring days.