July 19, 2021
Carousel of Bigg’s Killer Whales in the Juan De Fuca
Maxx K. | M/V Sea Lion | 07/19/2021 | 2:00pm
The crew was stoked for our afternoon trip today. Captain Pete and I joined Haleigh on Sea Lion, stoked for the afternoon given the reports from various morning tours. We left Friday Harbor heading out towards the Juan de Fuca and towards rumors of a T-Party of Bigg’s Killer Whales. It took us maybe 40 minutes to get on scene, but believe me, it was well worth the wait.
Four families of Bigg’s Orcas (made up of the T037As, T065A’s, T137’s, and the T034’s) clumped together, slowly rolling over one another as they traveled eastward. They would rise and fall together, seemingly dancing with one another as they would rise up to breathe, then dive once again. The next time they came up their behavior changed. This time they spun in a circle, rising out of the water and turning counterclockwise, one whale after the other.
After looking through our ID catalogue, we discovered that T034A and T037A are assumed to be siblings. We were watching at least a partial family reunion! Was there a birthday? Perhaps a pregnancy? What was the occasion? I will likely never know. And that’s why I love this job so much. We are fortunate to see these animals often, yet there’s still so much we don’t know about them. They will forever be, at least slightly, mysterious.
We travelled with them for about 30 minutes, watching in awe of this reunion before turning northbound once again. We eventually stopped off at the Whale Rocks to check out the dozens of Steller sea lions that covered the island. From there we moved northward once again, back to Friday Harbor.