June 8, 2019

Bigg's killer whales and humpback whales on a sunny morning!

Erin | M/V Kestrel | Saturday, June 8, 2019 | 11:00 AM

Today was an absolutely wonderful day out on the water. We left the harbor and the sun was shining! Within seven minutes of leaving the harbor, we came across a pod of killer whales. This is not a common occurence, so the crew was equally as excited as the passengers. The whales were diving in a zig-zagging pattern, there was some circling behavior by some of the younger whales, and there were lots of birds in the area. It was possible that they were hunting or they had already caught something. The pod was confirmed to be the T049A's. T049 was travelling with all of her offspring. After getting some great looks at the whales, we decided to go and investigate some reports of humpback whales. 

On our way through the President Channel, we spotted many harbor porpoises milling about the surface of the water. We ended up turning the boat off to see if we could get some good looks at them. Our plan worked out! Some of them passed by the stern of our boat, and we got to see their chocolate chip-shaped dorsal fins and light gray bodies. We soon saw some large splashes right by East Point on Saturna Island. It turned out to be the humpback whales we were searching for. There were two of them. When we first came across them, they were breaching and flipper slapping. Almost every time they dove, we got to see their flukes. They were both mostly black flukes, and one of them had a significant notch missing. It appeared to be the whale known as 'Divot.' As we left the whales, they were still quite active at the surface of the water. They were in the midst of a very large ebbing tide, so there was likely something to feed on in the area. 

After leaving the humpbacks, we went to Skipjack Island and saw about fifty harbor seals hauled out on the rocks. When we were leaving the harbor seals, a bald eagle flew over our boat. It was an incredible day of wildlife viewing. After all, it's not every day you get to see a massive, 45-ton humpback whale throw itself out of the water! 

Naturalist Erin