July 2, 2019

Bigg's Killer Whales Foraging Near Shaw Island!!

Bigg's Killer Whales Near Shaw Island!

Laura C. | 7/2/2019 | M/V Sea Lion | 1:30pm

It was quite an adventure in the Salish Sea today on M/V Sea Lion!  Passengers embraced the wind and swirling seas like seasoned mariners, in hopes of momentarily connecting with these graceful and somewhat mysterious sea creatures.  Luckily our voyage was to close by Shaw Island, a trifle trip compared to journeys the Sea Lion is capable of enduring.  The rain and fog created breathtaking views of the treetops of surrounding islands, creating a backdrop found in an eerie fairy tale.

 Our vessel rounded the island and we immediately noticed a strikingly tall dorsal fin piercing the thick air.  It was T65A2 in the company of his aunt and cousins, the T65Bs!  It was so great to see this socialization taking place right in front of our eyes!  We still have so much to learn about the social structure and interactions of these highly intelligent marine mammals and the Salish Sea is the perfect research platform for future studies.  T65A2 has been seen over the past couple days with his extended family group and the T65As were seen north of us by other whale watching vessels.  It is unclear why T65A2 is not with his close family but obviously he was immensely enjoying his time! 

Passengers were so happy to see such activity at the surface and to see the presence of a calf in the family!  The calf was tail breaching and demonstrating perfect acrobatic behaviors while staying close to fellow family members.  T65A2 even joined in and started lobtailing, turning upside-down with his head towards the sea floor and tail high up in the sky only to slam it down on the water and create a gigantic splash!  We had beautiful looks at the underside of his fluke which curled slightly around the edges, showing his adult male physique.  One of the family members joined in with some flipper slaps! 

The family appeared to be foraging by the way they were quickly moving through the water and circling around each other in such a small area.  We all discussed the potential of a seal or snack currently submerged underneath the water’s surface hidden from our view but more than obvious to the excitable orcas.  Since our distance to Bigg’s killer whales was quite short today we were able to spend a lot of time with this family and could appreciate the physical differences and behaviors of each family member.  Today was a fantastic day out on the water, full of adventure and whales!