September 2, 2013

Bits N' Pieces

It was a feast today for the T-30's, a group of marine mammal-eating orcas known as the Transient Orcas. The M/V Sea Lion motored out of Friday Harbor with perfectly still seas to meet up with six transient orcas hanging out North near the south side of Saturna Island in Canadian waters. Upon first looks it seemed as if the whales were in their usual foraging patterns, coming up for quick breaths and then going on deeper dives foraging for marine mammals beneath the waters surface. After about 10 minutes of this repeated behavior it seemed to pay off, because their behavior immediately switched into behavior associated when they are about to make a kill. The Transients grouped up into tight circles, constantly trying to keep their prey beneath the surface. Above the surface, whale watchers were rewarded with pectoral slaps, the occasional breach, and even some vocalizations!  At one point the seagulls began to gather at the surface to feed on any remains of the transient's kill that had floated to the surface! After this group seemed to simmer down it was time for M/V Sea Lion to return back to Friday Harbor.

This however did not prove to be the last time M/V Sea Lion would encounter transients for this trip. Once we were about 10 minutes from Friday Harbor we encountered seven more transients heading north! This group seemed to be in more of a resting pattern, but they were no less impressive than the group we had just left.

Overall, it was a great day to witness some transients displaying a range of behaviors. And although I miss the Southern Residents Orca Community, I sure do enjoy watching Transients in their natural habitat!

Caitlin, Naturalist- M/V Sea Lion, San Juan Safaris