July 17, 2019

Bigg's Killer Whales off Henry Island!

Piper | Wednesday, July 17, 2019 | M/V Sea Lion | 1:30 PM

This morning started out pretty drizzly but Captain Pete, Laura, me, and our enthusiastic guests got covered up in our awesome bright yellow rain slickers and hit the water like some Alaskan deep-sea fishermen! Only, our goal today was to get to watch some orcas and other wildlife just do their own thing, and we definitely accomplished that goal today!

We left Friday Harbor and headed north in San Juan Channel up and around San Juan Island. As we were exiting Spieden Channel we came across a bald eagle perched in a tree on Sentinel Island as well as some harbor seals on Sentinel Rock! Some of these harbor seals even had small pups next to them! We continued on to meet up with a group of Bigg’s killer whales which were swimming up the shores of Henry Island, where our sister company San Juan Outfitters’ kayaking tours explore!

This was a group of four orcas, T60 and two of her offspring, T60C her 18-year-old son and T60F, her seven-year-old daughter, plus T2B, a female born in 1979, about the same age as T60. These IDs were possible thanks to the unique markings on the sides of the orcas, called saddle patches, as well as their slightly differently shaped and notched dorsal fins!

We watched as they moved north all the way along Henry Island, across Spieden Channel and up to the south shores of Stuart Island, parting ways as they neared Reid Harbor.

We went back into Spieden Channel and got see a ton of wildlife along the shores and the hillside, including tons of harbor seals, another bald eagle, this one perched on the hillside, scanning the channel for its next meal, as well as many mouflon sheep and even a fallow deer! Spieden Island, the largest privately-owned island in the San Juans, has a lot of exotic animals on it, a reminder of its days as a trophy hunting destination.

We continued back south and returned to Friday Harbor with another awesome day in the books!