July 6, 2017

Decisions, Decisions...T101's and T49A's On the Prowl Near Salt Spring Island and Navy Channel

Lauren Fritz, 07/06/17, M/V Sea Lion, 1:30 pm and 5:30 pm Tours

What a day! Passengers on both of our tours were able to watch Transient orcas cruising through the Salish Sea. On our first trip, Captain Mike, Naturalist Sarah, and I decided to head over to a family of Tranisents that were hanging out near Salt Spring Island. What a beautiful journey it was! I hadn't been out this way yet this year, and I always love checking out the Canadian Gulf Islands. The San Juans are beautiful, of course, but what a treat to cross the border into Canada and spend some time near our neighbors to the north.

The T101's were southbound when we caught up to them off the shores of Salt Spring. They seemed to have just made a kill when we got there, as they had shifted from a milling, hunting pattern of behavior to more directional travel. This family is one of my favorites, because Mom travels with three big male offspring. A bunch of mama's boys, for sure! 

Our trip wasn't complete without checking out some harbor porpoises, bald eagles, and harbor seals on our way back towards Friday Harbor. What a magnificent trip!

On our second tour of the day, we journeyed north to catch up with an entirely different pod of Transients. These were the T49a's, who we've been seeing quite a bit of throughout the past few weeks. And how cool! They were definitely making some kills when we got up to them on the north side of North Pender Island. Once they had feasted, we were able to see some tail slapping, some spy-hopping, and even some "kelping" by one of the older males in the pod - he swam through some kelp and playfully towed it along with his dorsal fin! These animals definitely have their own methods of having fun.

As always, sunset on the Salish Sea was a dream. We soaked in the beauty as we headed in to harbor, basking in the sense of peace that follows an awesome day on the water and thinking back to our several amazing orca encounters.

Check out the best photos from the trip below!

Lauren Fritz, Naturalist, San Juan Safaris