September 4, 2020

Bigg's Killer Whales Travel Across the Strait of Juan de Fuca

Bigg's Killer Whales in Strait of Juan de Fuca

Olivia | M/V Sea Lion | September 4th, 2020 | 13:30

Leaving the dock, we were lucky enough to receive some whale rumors far south in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Attempting to give our passengers the best possibility of seeing whales, we decided to follow this rumor and head straight south. Coming up on the eastern side of Hein Bank, we spotted SIX black dorsal fins! These whales were initially by Smith Island and traveled west our entire trek south through the calm waters.

This family group of Bigg’s Killer Whales comprised of the T037A’s. The female matriarch/ mother was born in 1994 and traveling with all her kiddos, including a young calf. Our passengers were fortunate enough to see multiple orca behaviors other than milling, snoozing, or traveling. These behaviors included a moonwalk, spy hops, breaches, rolling, lunging, and a pectoral slap. How exciting! This mammal eating ecotype is commonly seen in our waters throughout the summer months as they feed on the increasing population of Harbor Seals while they give birth. However, seals are not the only animals on the menu, they will also feed on sea lions, porpoise, baleen whales, and the occasional deer swimming island to island!

We continued viewing these black and white dolphins until they were flirting with the Canadian border, where we made our travels back north towards San Juan Island. Passing many bait balls in Salmon Bank, we slowed down to scan for any random whales, and eventually stopped at Whale Rocks to see Steller’s Sea Lions and Harbor Seals hauled out in the sunshine and rolling in the cold, salty water below. With Mount Baker AND Mount Rainier standing sharply on the horizon, Captain Pete and I were itching with excitement about the epic trip we were able to provide for all our guests.