June 24, 2020

Bigg's Killer Whales in Haro Strait

T065A "Artemis"

Sarah | 06/24/2020 | M/V Sea Lion | 1:30pm

WHAT A DAY!! We had such an amazing day on the water exploring the Salish Sea looking for wildlife. With two separate rumors of whales around the San Juan Islands, but no confirmed reports. This meant that we had to go out to find the whales ourselves!

Captain Erick opted to try to find a group of orcas who had been spotted earlier in the day off the westside of San Juan Island. We made our way north through San Juan Channel, around the north end of San Juan Island, past Roche Harbor and out into northern Haro Strait. As we scanned south to Lime Kiln State Park we encountered some wind chop, but no whales. Figuring that the whales must have slipped past us we flipped around to head back north towards Kellet Bluff on Henry Island… still no whales. Erick and I decided that we would hold a line towards Stuart Island so that we would have the best chance of spotting the group of orcas. Our guests today were scanning champions… one of our guests aboard was the first to spot a quick surfacing of one of the whales!

What followed was an amazing encounter with the T065A family group. Tis family is a member of the Salish Sea Bigg’s killer whale population. We had a great time watching as T065A “Artemis” and four of her five kiddos travelled and hunted in Spieden Channel. We got awesome looks at a really unique hunt as T065A and her youngest, two-year-old T065A6 “Callisto,” hung out circling at the surface as the rest of the kids, T065A2 “Ooxjaa” (b2004), T065A3 “Amira” (b2007), and T065A4 “Ellifrit” (b2011), hunted just below the surface of the water. As they surfaced and continued to hunt it was amazing to see their coordination, and the klearning process as the younger orcas learned how to hunt more efficiently.

After a great encounter with the killer whales we headed out towards Friday Harbor looking for some other wildlife on the way home. We got some looks at bald eagles, and some guests even got a fleeting glimpse at a harbor porpoise. It was a spectacular day on the water.