June 13, 2019

Bigg's Killer Whales (T49As) Grace the Strait of Georgia!

Piper | Thursday, June 13, 2019 | M/V Kestrel | 11:00 AM

It was Captain Gabe and I on the Kestrel again today, but the crazy heat from yesterday had faded some, making the exposure suits we provide for guests extra helpful on the water. We had an awesome group of people today and we left the marina in Friday Harbor and headed north along San Juan Island. We stopped at White Rock near Waldron Island where we spotted a pair of bald eagles atop the rocks, which were also littered with harbor seals! Some of these little rock sausages were swimming around in the surf and we watched their little heads poking up above the waves before scooting off north again.

When we were in the middle of Boundary Pass we stopped the boat and waited to see if any harbor porpoises would surface in the waters around us, and they did! We got to see their little dorsal fins cut quickly through the water on both sides of the boat. Harbor porpoises are tiny cetaceans and this summer we’ve been seeing a lot of them swimming back and forth over the border of the US and Canada in Boundary Pass.

We picked up the pace again and found ourselves all the way up in the Strait of Georgia near the Belle Chain Islets where we arrived on scene with some Bigg’s killer whales! This family was the T49A’s, which are a group of five mammal-eating orcas! The mom and her four kiddos swam down the length of the islets and then cut across to the shores of Saturna Island. We got to see the littlest one playing around with its mom and siblings, swimming upside down at the surface amongst other behaviors like a spyhop and a joyful-looking leap!

We watched these whales swim as long as we could before we had to head back south, stopping to take some awesome photos at the Patos Island lighthouse with a gorgeous snow-capped Mount Baker in the background! What an amazing trip!