August 28, 2021

An Eerie Trip With Bigg's Killer Whales by Victoria, B.C.

Abby | M/V Kestrel | 10am | 8/28/2021

Captain Eric and I zoomed out of the harbor, sighting reports coming from Victoria. As we zipped through the glassy Strait of Juan De Fuca, smiles beamed amidst the bright sun rays that started breaking through the morning clouds. There were already a few boats viewing the family (T041’s) that had been spotted in Canadian waters this morning, so we decided to make a pit stop at the Chain Islets in between Discovery Island and Oak Bay. Pelagic Cormorants dotted the rocks, and as we turned the corner a six foot dorsal fin stood silent. It looked fake, statue-like. We couldn’t believe our eyes… It was Yelnats (T060C) and his brother Onca (T060D) wasn’t far behind.

Below is an outline of the family they normally travel with, although I think these two young boys were being rebellious… Like when we were all teenagers trying to sneak out of the house for a cheeky night on the town:

  • Panthera T060 (Female, 1980)
    • Yelnats T060C (Male, 2001)
    • Onca T060D (Male, 2004)
    • Lynx T060E (Male, 2008)
    • Tigris T060F (Female, 2012)

We watched these two hunt around the Chain Islets for some time before heading out into the fog near Race Rocks to see the T041’s porpoising on a south-westerly path.

  • Lawrie T041 (Female, 1966)
    • Jemison T041A (Female, 1988)
      • Tree T041A2 (Not yet gendered, 2013)
      • T041A3 (Not yet gendered or nicknamed, 2018)

It was a long trip out to Canadian waters, but a unique experience seeing two separate families and multiple orca behaviors between the two groups. I will never forget the six foot dorsal fin hiding behind a rock full of screeching gulls and cormorants, a truly unrealistic sighting, or the eerie fog against an orca backdrop, adding yet another shroud of mystery to these fascinating animals.