July 5, 2019

Bigg's Killer Whales and Seals Near Waldron Island!

Bigg's Killer Whales Near Waldron Island

Laura C. | 7/5/2019 | M/V Sea Lion | 1:30pm

After a beautiful 4th of July on San Juan Island, the party continued out in the Salish Sea among orcas!  Passengers and crew were so excited to hear reports of Bigg’s killer whales right past San Juan Channel near Waldron Island!  We slowly approached the area and waited patiently as the reported family of killer whales were on a dive.  Luckily these whales were clocking six-minute dives today and in a short matter of time we started seeing blows right off Waldron!  As we started assessing the scene, we noticed this family of four were somewhat dispersed; after two dives were back together in their wolf-like pack. 

This family was identified as the T99s, consisting of the matriarch born in 1984 and three of her offspring.  The youngest is currently four-years old which was reflecting in his/her minute dorsal fin, just barely reaching three feet above the water’s surface!  This female actually had a total of four offspring but unfortunately one of these individuals has not been seen since 2012.  It is unclear to researchers what happened to this whale known as T99A, but it has been recorded for an individual to appear back in with his/her family after several years of being M.I.A.  We will keep this dorsal fin in the photo-identification catalog in hopes of seeing this family member again.

As we scanned around our vessel, we noticed some harbor seals on some nearby rocks by Waldron Island.  The orcas made a semi-circle around the seals and it was obvious they were aware of where they could find their next meal!  Most of the seals were basking along the rocks but some were seen in the water!  Some passengers made comments that these harbor seals should make a quick exit plan to avoid becoming dinner!

Our captain ventured towards White Rock and we were greeted by a second large grouping of harbor seals!  And to our surprise a pair of bald eagles were perched on top of the rocks, enjoying a beautiful view of the islands around them!  Harbor porpoises were also in abundance today and were seen in multiple areas throughout our trip!  These harbor porpoises can also be apart of Bigg’s killer whales’ dinner plans but today they were enjoying the swirling currents around us!   This was a fantastic trip with such varying wildlife and a great example of the biodiversity found in the Salish Sea!