September 18, 2019

Extremely Epic Orca and Humpback Sighting!!

Jordan | M/V Sea Lion | 09/18/19 | 12:00pm

What a crazy epic day today!

Captain Gabe, Naturalist Piper and I took the Sea Lion out of Friday Harbor and headed north through the San Juan Channel. We heard reports from deep within Canadian territory, so we headed that direction. Boating above Stuart Island and crossing Boundary Pass, we crossed the border. We continued up toward Georgeson Pass, intertwining between gorgeous islands, admiring the birds flying by.

As we emerged into open waters of the Strait of Georgia, we could spot Vancouver in the distance. Then, as we were boating along, BAM! Orcas! Out of nowhere, a pod of orca whales burst through the water, headed out direction. Such an amazing surprise! This pod of four whales speedily swam through the strait, towards something in the distance. We identified this pod as the T123s!

The pod of transient orcas was beautiful to watch as they elegantly travelled together. The huge male swam closest to our boat and showed off his massive dorsal fin. You could make out a tiny little notch out of the edge of his fin as his bright white saddle patch seemed to glow in the sun. There was also a little baby orca whale that swam close to his mom. Born in 2018, this munchkin was very small and still learning from his mother.

Then, off in the distance, we saw another pod of orcas! The T100s! We watched as the two pods swam towards each other. But wait, there’s more. There was also a humpback whale right in the middle of everything!

The humpback tried to avoid the orcas and starting swimming the opposite direction. But then, as the humpback approached the boat next to us, he started rubbing against the vessel! You could see the bumps on his face as he lifted his whole head out of the water! He started making this odd noise we call “trumpeting” as he continuously made contact with the boat. It was such odd behavior! I personally, have never seen this behavior! You could see the tip of his fluke as he rolled around next to the boat and showed us his barnacles!

We couldn’t really decide why this whale was acting this way. Potentially, he could have been playful, he could be using the boat to hide from the orcas, or he could simply be an angsty teenage curiously exploring a mysterious object. Who knows what he was thinking! Part of the wonder of the whale world, is not knowing every answer.

In the distance, we watched as the two orca pods joined and continued travelling and socializing with one another.

Eventually, we said bye to all our whale friends and headed back towards the south.

Along the way, we stopped to visit an island full of harbor seals and watch a bald eagle perched in a tree!

Overall, it was a spectacular day!