July 20, 2019

Bigg's Orcas, Bonus Humpback, and Beautiful Bald Eagles!

Piper | Saturday, July 20, 2019 | M/V Kestrel | 11:00 AM

The Salish Sea was a veritable whale soup today as Captain Gabe and I took a group of wonderful folks out to explore aboard the M/V Kestrel! We started out leaving the docks in Friday Harbor with a majestic bald eagle soaring overhead! Two more bald eagles graced our trip with their presence shortly after, another one flying past and the third eagle perched on Flattop Island, a national wildlife refuge.

Along the shores of Flattop, we also spotted many harbor seals, some with little pups! These pups only nurse for about five or six weeks before they’re weaned and left to fend for themselves, so we really enjoy the time we get to watch them next to mom!

Soon we continued north, motoring across Boundary Pass, where we spotted many harbor porpoises surfacing all around us! We arrived at South Pender Island in the Canadian Southern Gulf Islands where a humpback whale had been spotted shortly before! As we slowly pulled into the area of the whale we scanned the horizon waiting for it to come up from the depths of a long dive.

Suddenly its blow exploded over the horizon and we got to watch as it surfaced again and again before fluking for five-minute dives. A couple of surfacing rounds in we got to watch as the humpback whale fluked right under the peak of Mount Baker in the distance. What a view!

We left the humpback after 20 awesome minutes to go check out some Bigg’s killer whales nearby! There were two groups of Bigg’s orcas around Patos Island, the T65As and the T77s! Last night we saw these two groups together in almost the same spot but T65A2, the 15-year old male wasn’t there last night, and he was today! So we had eleven orcas swimming around us total.

We got to see the T65As potentially start some hunting behaviors and then took a dive, possibly keeping the harbor seal they were after from getting to the surface! The littlest orca, T65A6 decided to wave her tail in the air and splash around a bit and it was awesome to get to see how massive T65A2 is getting! His big developing dorsal fin was dwarfed by the 19-year old T77B nearby, though!

It was a fantastic day on the water and time seemed to fly by before we made it back into the marina in Friday Harbor!