June 30, 2019

Bigg's Killer Whales, the T37A's, Chow Down on a Porpoise!

Piper | Sunday, June 30, 2019 | M/V Sea Lion | 5:30 PM

Happy last day of June! Tonight’s sunset cruise took us south through San Juan Channel to check out a report of orcas near Hein Bank! We headed down towards Cattle Point Lighthouse and stopped at Whale Rocks to check out a few Steller sea lions STILL hanging out in the pass! One sub-adult was lounging on the rocks soaking up the remaining rays for the day, trying to get warm. We continued south to an awesome view of the Olympic Peninsula and just a few miles later we’d arrived on scene with a group of Bigg’s killer whales!

These orcas were the T37A’s, a group of five orcas made up of the matriarch, T37A, and four of her offspring! They were traveling west at a decent clip before going on a deep dive and coming up going north off our bow!

We turned our vessel to keep paralleling them and suddenly they began porpoising and changed direction again and again! They were hunting down an animal! I looked through my binoculars and am fairly certain I saw a little harbor porpoise in the group, trying to outrun its predators; but, alas, the little porpoise didn’t make it out alive. Suddenly a chunk of red floated to the surface—the porpoise’s lungs, it appeared to be—the orcas successfully hunted down some dinner!

We watched as some seagulls flew in to pick up the scraps as the orcas chowed down on the muscle and fat from the animal. A seaplane flew overhead and one of the orcas gave us an awesome spyhop, checking out our boat and possibly that plane!

After they’d consumed their shared meal we left them for the night and headed north.

At Long Island we turned along the shore to check out a massive bald eagle nest! This baby is huge and although we didn’t see any eagles in it tonight, a majestic bald eagle soared right past our boat on our way up San Juan Channel, back into Friday Harbor just as the clouds began to turn bright pink!