August 11, 2020

Bigg's Killer Whales and SO Much Wildlife!

T010 family of Bigg's killer whales

Sarah | 08/11/2020 | M/V Kestrel | 2:00pm


We had a fabulous day on M/V Kestrel full of lots of wildlife in the Salish Sea. Captain Brian and I decided to head south out of Friday Harbor towards an earlier report of some orca on the west side of San Juan Island.

As we arrived on scene in Haro Strait, we quickly realized that we had a family of Bigg’s killer whales known as the T010s. This smll family of two consists of an adult female T010 Langara and her adult son T010C Bones. Langara is one of the oldest female killer whales in our populations here in the Salish Sea with an estimated birth-year of around 1965. Her son, Bones, was born in 1999 and is close to being full-grown. These whales are part of our marine mammal hunting ecotype along the Pacific Coast, and are totally separate culturally and genetically from the salmon-eating type of whales known as residents. The primary prey items for Bigg’s killer whales in our area are Pacific harbor seals and harbor porpoise. We had a great encounter with the whales as they travelled and hunted.

After leaving the orca pointed north in Haro Strait we elected to head south again towards some wildlife hotspots. On our way back towards Cattle Pass we caught a fleeting glimpse at some harbor porpoise. We made a stop at Whale Rocks to find some Steller’s sea lions, harbor seals, and awesome seabirds, including a rare visitor to our area, a brown pelican! After the pinniped-palooza on the rocks, we also got a chance to see a bald eagle perched over Shark Reef on Lopez Island.


Bird List

-red-necked phalarope

-rhinoceros aucklet

-pigeon guillemot

-common murre

-Heerman’s gull

-glaucous-winged gull

-pelagic cormorant

-double-crested cormorant

-harlequin ducks

-great blue heron

-bald eagle

-brown pelican