August 11, 2022

Bigg's Killer Whales Cruise Through Gulf Islands

Elle | M/V Osprey | 8/11/2022 | 5:30 PM

This evening's sunset cruise enjoyed glassy waters and beautiful pink clouds around Mt. Baker (also known as Koma Kulshan) as we searched for wildlife in the Salish Sea. We departed from Friday Harbor and headed north at full speed, following rumors of some larger cetaceans. On our way towards Canada, we encountered plenty of birds, including common murres, rhinoceros auklets, and a few different varieties of gulls. We also encountered several habror porpoises. The first few we saw were swimming slowly and undisturbed, but another group, near Moresby Island, was swimming quickly past us, launching out of the water as they went. This behvior is called porpoising and it helps the porpoises swim faster. We suspected they might be swimming so fast to avoid a predator. Soon after this sighting, we came onto the scene with five orca whales. These whales were the T99 family of Bigg's killer whales, the mammal-eating apex predators of the Salish Sea. This family is made up of a mother, two daughters, a son, and a baby that was born just last year! The group was spread out over a half mile distance, swimming west through Swanson Channel below Saltspring Island. We enjoyed some beautiful views of the group, with Portland Island and two BC Ferries in the background of our photos. As we went to turn our boat around to leave, the male popped up right behind us! We stopped our engines to watch as the whale made a close pass of our vessel before departing into the sunset.