April 21, 2021

Bigg's Killer Whales Seen in Roche Harbor!

Bigg's Killer Whales Near Roche Harbor

Laura | M/V Sea Lion | 4/21/21 | 1:00PM

Even though I have lived in San Juan Island for a few years now, it still amazes me how often we are able to see orcas close to shore.  We left Friday Harbor with a report of Bigg’s killer whales near Green Point on the south side of Spieden Island!  We immediately headed north up San Juan Channel and by the time we were near the last report, this family of orcas went into Roche Harbor and into Mosquito Pass!  It’s amazing to know that there is always a chance of seeing whales, even in the shallow waters of local harbors.  To meet these whales, we traveled around the north side of Henry Island and saw our first blows as this family was just starting to come out of Mosquito Pass!  Everyone on board was super excited to see orcas, and for some it was their first time ever seeing these beautiful animals!

We continued to watch these Bigg’s killer whales, five in all, and identified them as the T90s traveling with T49A3!  The T90s have been seen in this general area over the past couple days, and it is rare to be able to see a family stay in a small radius for this long.  There have been plenty of Steller sea lions to keep them well fed and there was some buzz of hunting activity on the radio.  Our vessel actually passed a Steller sea lion right before we started seeing whales, only a few hundred yards away!  This animal did not seem to be traveling quickly or away from the whales but must have known that they were in the area near their top predator.  Everyone got awesome looks at these killer whales and it is so humbling to be able to be in their presence and just experience the magic they bring to the Salish Sea.

After we had our last looks at whales, we continued down Spieden Channel to check out a cluster of bald eagles on the ground along the hilltop of Spieden Island.  These eagles were feasting on a carcass!!  It was really cool to watch them take turns going over to the carcass and see the hierarchy among these hungry scavengers.  We also got to see a bunch of Steller sea lions hauled out by Green Point on Spieden and swimming in the current around us.  It was a wonderful day out on the water and I am so glad we were able to share information and the experience of seeing killer whales in the wild.