June 10, 2021

Bigg's Killer Whales Throw a Carcass Around San Juan Channel!

Bigg's Killer Whales Hunting Near San Juan Island

Laura | M/V Osprey | 6/10/2021 | 12:30 PM

Summer is here in the Salish Sea!  We had an awesome trip with 4 Bigg’s killer whales southbound in San Juan Channel!  It is not common for us to have orcas right outside of Friday Harbor, but if the stars align and our vessel departs as whales are passing by, we have found ourselves in the middle of an epic wildlife experience!  And today was not a day to disappoint!

M/V Osprey headed north in San Juan Channel and within 10 minutes our vessel slowed down to look ahead at some nearby exhalations!  We were thrilled to find the T123’s, a family of four, including Sidney, Stanley, Lucky, and Darcy!  This is a popular family in the San Juans, commonly seen hunting in these waters.  These Bigg’s killer whales are the top predator in our oceans, towering over our great white sharks.  This particular family has a history of attacking baleen whales!  A couple of days ago there was a report of a humpback whale calf attack in these waters.  The mom and calf pair has not been sighted since, so we are keeping our eyes out for any humpback sightings.  Humpback whales have been increasing in population and therefore spreading in distribution over the Salish Sea for the past 15 years.  Attacks on humpback whale calves are not a common sighting here yet, but it may be something we will see more prevalently in the future. 

Today, the T123’s were showing off their prime hunting skills!  We watched a kill take place right before our eyes! Lucky, one of the orcas, started awesome arial activity with a few spyhops, cartwheels, full-body breaching, and tail breaching!  The calf, Darcy, also breached out of the water, which was adorable to see!  It was quite a show!  As we were all watching, we saw a carcass fly out of the water several times from the orcas!  This is rare to see and a super exciting event to be apart of!  It seemed like passengers and orcas were having a joyous time on this beautiful summer day! 

After leaving the T123’s we continued through Johns pass and saw bald eagles, harbor seals, and explored Spieden Island.  It was such a fun day today and I am so glad everyone experienced this amazing orca encounter!  Thank you everyone for the day and don’t forget to post your photos!