June 30, 2022

Biggs Killer Whales at Race Rocks, British Columbia

June 30th, 2022

Abby Dahl

10am M/V Kestrel

Captain Michael and I peeled out of the harbor, knowing it was about to be a long journey in our search for whales. We had only one report of Bigg’s killer whales near Race Rocks in British Columbia, Canada, so we took a right and began heading south through San Juan Channel. It was almost ironic, as we immediately found a pair of humpback whales upon our southbound journey. They were taking long dives, so we only saw them a few times before pushing onward. There is nothing more exciting than to be the first to stumble upon whales as part of the Pacific Whale Watching Association.

Michael and I took our guests to Whale Rocks to spot some Steller’s sea lions and thermoregulating harbor seals. We talked about the “fertilizer of the sea,” also known as animal poo, that covered the jagged rocks and fed the microorganisms beneath the surface.

We continued into the Strait of Juan De Fuca and took a long ride in search of our orcas. After about 40 minutes, we came onto scene. We had the T049A’s!

  • T049A “Nan” (1986, Female, mother of all listed below)
    • T049A1 “Noah” (2001, male)
    • T049A2 “Jude” (2007, male)
    • T049A3 “Nat” (2011, male)
    • T049A4 “Neptune” (2014, male)
    • T049A5 “Nebula” (2017, female)

T049A2, “Jude,” doesn’t usually travel with his mom and siblings, so this individual was not present.

We got some amazing looks at this group of killer whales. Every time I see them, it feels as if I’m seeing them for the first time. Watching their behavior, noticing the little clues about how they’re interacting. I no longer just see these big, beautiful creatures, but I can relate and to them.

On our journey home, something unexpected happened. As we neared Cattle Pass, we saw a sea otter! They have been wiped out in our area, although a reintroduction and population increase along the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State has brought back a small population. This was my first time seeing a sea otter on one of our boat tours, and was just as thrilling for me as it was for our guests.

Elated, overjoyed, and thankful for a well-rounded and exciting trip, we trotted along and journeyed home.