June 25, 2020

Bigg's Killer Whales Lull Around Blakely Island!

Bigg's Killer Whales

Laura | M/V Sea Lion | 6/25/2020 | 13:30

This afternoon’s whale watch aboard M/V Sea Lion was simply spectacular!  We left Friday Harbor with reports of killer whales not far away, near Blakely and Obstruction Islands.  I am always so excited to hear the radio announcing the presence of whales even before we leave the dock!  After a quick safety talk from our Captain Pete, we hurried our way through San Juan Channel to get to Obstruction Pass.  There we were greeted by a couple of fellow whale-watching vessels as well as a family of Bigg’s killer whales!!  It was a beautifully calm day out there so passengers were able to take in long viewings of these whales as they calmly surfaced through the glass around us.  It did not take us long to recognize this majestic family as the T65As, a very familiar group to the San Juan Islands!  This family of 5 consists of T65A, the head matriarch, and all her offspring.  She has a son in the group who was towering over his nearby siblings!  You can easily pick him out not only by his large stature but also his tall, floppy dorsal fin, reaching 6 feet high off his back!  This male readily branches away from his family and stays a few hundred yards away, a very typical male move in his early 20’s!  He may be looking for some solo time away from his younger siblings or he may be giving mom more space to care for her young.  It is always fun speculating why individuals are conducting certain behaviors, and your guess is as good as mine!  There is also a vibrant calf in the family, who was tucked close to by mom’s side! 

We were so lucky to see these killer whales so close to Friday Harbor and we were able to spend a great deal of time with them!  As we watched the T65As we noticed their behavior turn lazy and slow, a noted afternoon slumber.  These moments provide the perfect opportunity to just sit back and enjoy these beautiful animals in their natural environment.  It was clear that this family was content and enjoying the day, just like we were.  People on board, myself included, were in pure bliss soaking up the afternoon sun on a calm day watching these killer whales slowly surface and exhale around our boat.  These whales may be the top predators of the ocean and contain the name “killer” in their identification, but every animal has different sides and emotions, just like us.  We were able to see this family in their most gentle and nurturing states, a true privilege to be apart of.  Hopefully passengers agreed that this experience was one to remember for a lifetime, thanks to these beautiful killer whales.  The day was topped off by an awesome bald eagle encounter along Blakely Island and some harbor seals too!