August 15, 2020

Bigg's Killer Whales Pass Along Whidbey Island

Bigg's Killer Whales near Whidbey Island

Olivia | M/V Sea Lion | August 15th, 2020 | 13:00

With Mount Baker standing tall and a warm breeze lightly drifting over the water, we started our long haul towards Whidbey Island in an attempt to see some Bigg’s Killer Whales. Leaving the dock, these 8 individuals were originally just south of Lopez Island and continued southeast of Deception Pass. After traveling for over an hour keeping all our fingers and toes crossed, passing a large, swimming Steller’s Sea Lion on the way, we locked eyes on the black dorsal fins!

In this group, we had two families traveling together – the T065A’s in addition to T137 and T137D. These two mammal-eating families have been traveling together for several weeks now, typically in Saratoga Passage as well as the Puget Sound. It was such a treat to have them nearby today and watch as they milled through the sunny waters. Harbor Porpoise appeared off our starboard and starting aggressively swimming in the opposite direction of the apex predators. The orca briefly separated and eventually started porpoising back towards one another to meet up as they crept closer in the direction of Smith Island.

After capturing classic PNW photos of Transient Orca swimming beneath Mount Baker, we started heading back to San Juan Island in search of other wildlife. Nearing Whale Rocks, we slowed down to view heaps of Harbor Seals and Steller’s Sea Lions hauled out on the small islands.  This morning turned out to be humbly perfect and a nice reminder of the beauty the San Juan Islands hold.