August 21, 2020

Bigg's Killer Whales Enjoy A San Juan Island Sunset

San Juan Island Orca Sunset

Olivia | M/V Sea Lion | August 21st, 2020 | 17:30

Leaving the dock, we were intensely paying attention to our radios, repeaters, and apps on the whereabouts of the Transient Orca we saw previously on the 13:00 trip. Since the whales can travel over a hundred miles in a day, we don’t ever expect what we see on one trip to be true for the next—but we REALLY wanted to see this family group of Bigg’s Killer Whales. We immediately started heading south (passing multiple Harbor Porpoise) in their direction, not stopping along the way, to give our passengers the best opportunity they could in seeing something black and white, while scanning the entire way not knowing what else may be swimming around out there. To our pleasant surprise, we spotted this family group (who we thought were closer to False Bay) right underneath Cattle Point Lighthouse! How aesthetic is that!?

For the duration of the trip, we were one of two boats viewing these whales from over 200 yards away and slowly boating under 7kts. We watched as they milled, breached, lobtailed, moon walked, and rolled over one another. They shifted between hugging the shoreline, swimming directly in the middle of the channel, and eventually shifting to the opposite side near Lopez Island. We could feel the beauty of these whales in addition to the glorious sunset to our core, it was a filling feeling that puts a pause on the extra craziness our world seems to be engulfing us in.

We peeled off heading south to Whale Rocks to view Steller’s Sea Lions, Harbor Seals, Cormorants, Gulls, and even a Brown Pelican before flipping back up San Juan Channel again towards Friday Harbor as the sky blazed in soft, warm oranges, purples, and reds. By the time we turned into Friday Harbor, the family group of Bigg’s Killer Whales, T060’s+ T002B, were hovering outside the harbor and slowly continuing their trek north. I cannot express the warmth this trip provided for all of us during the Friday night sunset.