August 13, 2018

Bigg's Killer Whales at Sunset | 8/03/18 | 5:30pm

Leaving the harbor aboard M/V Sea Lion Captain Gabe, naturalist Eric and myself were excited to get out on the water and see some orcas! We had been hanging around a humpback earlier that day and there were now reports of transient orcas up north. Although pretty far out, we were hopeful we’d be able to catch up to them and get a chance to see them on this afternoon trip! The orcas were far out by Point Roberts well into the Strait of Georgia, but Captain Gabe decided to go for it and the guests were very thankful. We headed up the San Juan Channel with beautiful views of the islands and then took Boundary Pass north. There was a service dog on board on this trip, whom along with harbor porpoises and seals kept the crew and the guest entertained under way.
After about an hour and a half of travel time and well into the northern part of the Strait of Georgia, we spotted some dorsals! Finally, we had reached these whales on time! There seemed to be two groups of transient orcas, identified as T46s and T137s pod. There was two full grown bulls in this pods, whom seemed to be surfacing right next to each other often. The animals were spread out and we decided to just slowly head north along their side. While some whales were trailing behind, the leaders were staying parallel to our boat. We stayed with them for quite a while until they changed directions towards East. We then decided to change our course too and noticed the two big bulls coming up right towards us. Captain Gabe turned his motor off without wanting to disturb these two whales’ behavior. The two massive orcas decided to surface feet away from our port side and go under our boat! This was such a strong moment for all of us, seeing their white markings as they brought their massive bodies out of the water for a breath and created that unforgettable sound as they exhaled and inhaled once more.
Already with the sun setting behind us, it was time to head back home. We decided to trek home through the inside of the Canadian Gulf Islands, spotting a few bald eagles on the way. As we crossed Boundary Pass back into US waters, the colors of the sunset were starting to really come alive giving the sky beautiful pink and orange shades.
Mariana, Naturalist, San Juan Safaris