July 11, 2020

Bigg's Killer Whales Under a Rainbow!

Bigg's Killer Whales Near Blakely Island

Laura | M/V Sea Lion | 7/11/2020 | 5:30PM

The sunset trip this evening was certainly a wildlife encounter to remember!  Passengers were decked out in rain gear from the afternoon, but luckily the skies were in our favor and we avoided getting rained on!  This overcast weather is some of the best conditions to scan for whales as their exhalations seem to linger in the air a little longer and create a nice contrast to the surrounding backdrop.  There was also minimal wind out there so the seas were glass, setting an absolutely beautiful scene around us. 

M/V Sea Lion easily cruised through Peavine Pass near Blakely Island and passengers were quickly greeted by 5 Bigg’s killer whales surfacing right next to our boat!  Luckily, our vessel was just sitting there assessing the scene ahead and these whales decided to pop up right next to our stern!  This family turned out to be the T36s, with a little 2-year old calf in tow!  This little boy looks to be quite healthy and lively.  He was seen traveling right next to mom throughout the whole trip!  As we made our way through the pass, passengers could just sit back and enjoy being around these orcas in a quiet, beautiful atmosphere.  We were the only boat on scene, and it is so nice to have the opportunity to be the only people around in what could be a very busy channel.  We watched several behavior changes, from rest to foraging to hunting in an area with a bunch of harbor seals around!  Viewers had the time to start to recognize family members of the group and got so excited when the calf made some commotion and did a couple tail slaps!  A few of them started porpoising close to shore and we saw most of their bodies airborne as they surged out of the water!  We were all anticipating a dramatic seal hunt by some rocks off Shaw Island, and unfortunately (fortunately for the seals) these whales kept moving on after checking them out.  The skies were gorgeous and as we looked up a full rainbow came into view!  Nothing like orcas and rainbows to fill a sunset whale watch!  We finally had to say goodbye to the T36s and thanked them for this wonderful experience.  As we headed towards home, we were pleasantly surprised to find a bald eagle right near the turn into Friday Harbor!  A magical evening in the San Juan Islands complete!