July 20, 2020

Cartwheels, Tail Slaps and Breaches Make a Day of Play for Bigg's Killer Whales!

Bigg's Killer Whales Play in the Rosario Strait!

Laura | M/V Kestrel | 7/20/2020 | 2:00pm

I must say, today was one of my favorite trips all season!  It was a gorgeous day on the water and the seas were so calm!  It felt so nice to have some warm breeze on such a hot day!  As we left the harbor there were reports of some Bigg’s killer whales close to home!  We made our way into the Rosario Strait and found orcas just 20 minutes after leaving our dock! 

Passengers scanned the shores and saw a cluster of tiny black dorsal fins as these animals surfaced right along a nearby beach.  They turned out to be the T37As!  This family of Bigg’s killer whales have been seen roaming through the Salish Sea over the past few days, including the Strait of Georgia, Rosario Strait and Haro Strait.  With an abundance of harbor seal pups to feast on, it is no wonder these whales are content hanging around and socializing with one another.  The T37A’s are a family of 5, with a female born in 1994 and all her offspring.  The youngest is just 5 years-old and was acting like a puppy out there!  He/she was tail slapping, cartwheeling, porpoising and even breaching right out of the water!  The whole family decided to play around together and were acting very rambunctious!  It looked like so much fun!  The calf was even pushed along the surface by one of his/her older siblings and then flipped on its back before going back under the water.  It reminded me of an older sibling pushing a toddler on a swing at a playground!  There is so much joy in watching a family of killer whales socializing with one another and acting relaxed and happy along a beautiful Salish Sea backdrop.  Today was simply exceptional!

 At one point they all went into a tiny cove area and were checking it out right along some unexpecting kayakers!  People from the shoreline were lined up along the rocks and had a once-in a-lifetime view of orcas moving right past them!  Passengers loved the amount of time we were able to just sit back and watch these orcas and speculate about their ever-changing behaviors and impressive acrobatic moves!  We all decided these whales were simply having a good time and were enjoying the sunshine and good company.  After over an hour of being immersed in orca family playtime, we moved to a nearby rocky area to check out a beautiful bald eagle and harbor seals!  These harbor seals were also enjoying the fine weather and swimming in the swirling kelp beds!  This was an area of upwelling, so it is a prime spot to find food, hang in some kelp, and haul out on the nearby rocks.  We even saw a mom and her pup swim by our port side.  The pup looked like he/she was riding mom’s back they were so close!  It was a very cute sight!  As we made our way home feeling totally blown out of the water with our wildlife encounter of orcas, eagles, and seals, we watched the curtain close behind us of Mount Baker and the Cascades moving out of view.  It was a magical day and I am so happy everyone got to experience this day together with the T37As!