June 27, 2019

Bigg's Killer Whale Family Near Sucia Island!

Bigg's Killer Whales Near Sucia Island!

Laura C. | 6-27-2019 | M/V Sea Lion | 1:30pm

Passengers boarded M/V Sea Lion today with vigor, in hopes of either witnessing whales in their natural environment for the first time or reconnecting with these charismatic leviathans once again!  And we were not disappointed!  Captain Pete manned the helm as we ventured north through San Juan Channel and rounded Orcas Island to join fellow whale-watching vessels near Sucia Island.  We were elated to see a familiar family in the area known as the T65As!  This family has been seen many times this season thus far and it is always comforting to see that they are doing well!

T65A2 showed off his impressive dorsal fin as he towered over his fellow family members.  Born in 2004, this teenage male had a little wobble to his dorsal which the crowd immediately noticed.  As he matures this fin will become stronger and more rigid, showing his full capacity as a grown male in his mid-twenties.  And it is always exciting to see a calf closely tagging along mom and learning from his/her older siblings.  These siblings are not only important role models but also act as built-in babysitters when mom needs some independent time.  T65A was born in 1986 and is living out her prime years as a successful reproductive female within this population of Bigg’s killer whales.   Hopefully we will all be able to continue watching this family grow over generations and see her become a grandmother one day!

The Bigg’s killer whale population in this area is growing due to the abundance of food in the area.  The Salish Sea is home to around 50,000 harbor seals and are a great prey source for these mammal-eating orcas.  There is a perfect balance between these two species as predator and prey.  The harbor seals are currently at maximum carrying capacity for this ecosystem and our Bigg’s killer whales take on the role of keeping those numbers in check with great responsibility!  We didn’t see any hunting action today but the T65As could have been scanning the area for a potential meal.  Harbor seals were in abundance today, especially near White Rock, with several bird species flying overhead.  These harbor seals seemed quite relaxed along the rocks as some swam in the waters nearby and others flaunted their intricately dappled pelts or coats as they rested above the waterline with their fellow neighbors.  It was a full day out on the water and it was great to see a growing family of Bigg’s killer whales!