June 7, 2019

Bigg's Killer Whales and Scratchy the Humpback Whale!

Erin | M/V Sea Lion | Friday, June 7, 2019 | 12:00 PM

What a phenomenal day it was out in the Salish Sea! We saw so many different types of wildlife, and the sun decided to show itself as well! We began our trip heading south toward Cattle Point. When we got to Cattle Point, we got some great views of Cattle Point lighthouse. Then we attracted our attention toward Whale Rocks, where there were Steller’s sea lions hauled out on the rocks and swimming in the water around them. There was also an adult bald eagle resting on the rocks. We saw one of the sea lions rolling around in the water, which was fun to see! As we travelled past Long Island, we saw another bald eagle perched in the treetops!

We continued our wildlife trip toward some orca reports. On the way there, we saw harbor seals hauled out on some rocks. Then we got our sights on a pod of orcas. They were travelling cryptically at the surface when we first approached the area. There were two males in the pod and 3 females. They began to travel soon after we started watching them, and then they were doing tail slaps and breaches. Some of the whales were also exhibiting circling behavior. It was possible they were in an active hunt, but we never got any sights of prey in the water. We were able to identify the orcas as the T049A’s. T049A was travelling with her four offspring, one of which was a calf!  

After watching the T049A’s, we headed towards a report of a humpback whale. Within a couple of miles of the humpback, we could see its enormous blow up at the surface of the water. Adult humpback whales have a 15-foot blow, and that is how large it seemed this blow was. When we got closer, we could tell there was just one humpback whale in the area. It had a predictable dive pattern for the first few times it came to the surface. It was coming up for a few breaths and then diving and raising its tail high above the water. We got to see the underside of its tail, or fluke, and we were able to identify the whale as ‘Scratchy,’ or MMY0079. We couldn’t have hoped for a fuller day of wildlife viewing!

Naturalist Erin