May 26, 2019

Bigg's Killer Whales: Fun with the T101's

Erin | M/V Sea Lion | Sunday, May 26, 2019 | 12:00 PM

What a fantastic trip we had on a beautifully sunny day! It began with harbor porpoises. These tiny toothed whales were travelling through President Channel as we made our way to where there were some orca reports. Everyone was excited to see them. As we travelled into the area where we knew there were some orcas, it took us some time to figure out where they were. Then we saw tall blows and tall dorsal fins in the distance.

When we got closer, we could tell we were watching a female and a male orca. Naturalist Sarah was able to identify the whales. The female was T101, and the male travelling with here was one of her offspring. They had fairly predictable dive patterns, and it was fun to watch them dive together. After watching them for a while, we spotted two other orcas in the area. This time they were both males. They were two more of T101’s offspring. They were travelling faster than the first two whales we were watching and were creating more whitewater at the surface. At one point, they surfaced close to our boat and we got to hear them breathe and saw their 6 feet dorsal fins up close! It was a spectacular experience!

After watching orcas, we travelled a short distance to find a humpback whale that was by itself. It was taking shallow dives until our very last sighting of it, when we got to see its giant fluke come up and out of the water! It turns out that we were watching a whale known as Monarch, or BCZ0180. This is a whale that is usually spotted on the breeding grounds off the coast of Mexico during the winter months. We were close to some Steller’s sea lions, so we went and checked them out. They were hauled out on the rocks at Boiling Reef. On our way home, we saw some harbor seals hauled out on the rocks of Flattop Island. It was a day full of all kinds of wildlife, and the weather was perfect for whale watching!

Naturalist Erin