July 15, 2019

Bigg's Killer Whales and a Humpback Whale in the Strait of Georgia!

Erin | M/V Sea Lion | Monday, July 15, 2019 | 1:30 PM

What an incredible trip aboard the M/V Sea Lion today! The sun was shining and the water was smooth. Not only did we have an amazing boat ride, but we saw an abundance of wildlife! We headed north out of Friday Harbor and went toward Canada. There were some reports of orcas in the Strait of Georgia, so we headed in that direction. As we got to East Point, we saw a humpback whale blow in the distance. The whale went down for a dive as we arrived on scene, but then we saw it come back up, and it went in a circle when it came up. It was most likely gathering food beneath the water's surface. It did an amazing fluke-up dive, and we got a really good look at the underside of its tail! Thanks to two of our passengers on board who got really great pictures of the whale's fluke and dorsal fin, we were able to identify the whale as 'Stitch.' Stitch is a whale who is frequently seen in the Salish Sea throughout the summer months. While we were watching the humpback whale, we saw a bald eagle nearby dive into the water, grab something, and then fly away! It was such a neat sight to see. There was so much upwelling happening all around us, so there was probably lots of food to be had. After we had seen the whale at the surface a couple of times, we headed toward the orcas. 

When we arrived on scene with the orcas, they were near a shipping veseel, but headed in our direction. There turned out to be a large group of them, and within the group we noticed that there were two males, a calf, and a juvenile! At first, the group was travelling very quickly, and a few of them were porpoising. Then, all of a sudden, they all slowed down and regrouped with one another. It seemed like they could have been hunting, but it was also a large group of whales, so they could have also been two families of whales socializing with each other. Towards the end of our encounter with the whales, they started to head in our direction, and we got some really amazing looks at them! We knew that they were Bigg's killer whales, but we were unable to identify them. When we left the orcas, we headed back toward East Point and back through President Channel, where we saw another bald eagle perched on some rocks! It was a lovely day in the Salish Sea!

Naturalist Erin