April 14, 2021

Bigg's Killer Whales T49As and T49Bs by Matia Island!

Bigg's killer whale family by Matia Island

Laura | M/V Sea Lion | 4/14/2021 | 1:00PM

Today was such a fun day out on the water!  We headed north bound on M/V Sea Lion, through Presidents Channel, and towards Matia Island.  There was a morning report of Bigg’s killer whales headed SE in The Strait of Georgia near Sucia Island!  Once we arrived on scene, we were thrilled to start seeing blows to the side of Puffin Island.  This family was identified at the T49As and 49Bs, a well-known family of two sisters and all their offspring.  T49B was born in 1982 and has two children, one from 2010 and 2013.  T40A is her older sister from 1986 and she already has five children!  The oldest is a male from 2001 and the youngest is a female from 2017.  T49A2, a rowdy male from 2007, has been seen several times away from his family and with another male somewhere close by in the general vicinity.  Today he was unaccounted for, but I figured he was probably off enjoying boy time with a friend.   The two families totaled eight whales in all, and they seemed to be enjoying the day just as much as we were!  It was awesome to see T49A1, certainly the largest member of the group.  It looked like he grew since last year!  Male orcas reach physical maturity in their early to mid-twenties, so T49A2 is almost at maximum length.  We may notice him filling out a little more and his dorsal fin may become more rigid over the next few years. 

Passengers were so happy to have had such a wonderful whale encounter today.  We were able to stay with these whales for about an hour and just enjoy being in their presence as they moved through the area and occasionally surfaced near us or other whale watching vessels in the area.  On our way back towards San Juan Channel, we had a surprise visit from a few Steller sea lions!  They were cruising near the shoreline and we circled around as they enjoyed our boat wake.  It was such a cute and fun encounter!  There were also some harbor seals and bald eagles in the area today so we were all very lucky to have the opportunity to see so many animals in the Salish Sea on a sunny spring day!  Thank you all for coming out with us and learning about our Bigg’s killer whale population!  We had some great conversations about the differences between Bigg’s killer whale and our Southern Resident killer whale populations, and how their current habitat loss and shifts within our ecosystem has effected population dynamics and variances between species.