March 21, 2018

A Family That Preys Together: T2C Transient Orcas Hunt Near Stuart Island

Bigg's Orcas

[Monday, 3/19/18 – 12:00 – M/V Sea Lion – Naturalist Erick]


            Again, today, it was beautiful and sunny, and the green waters of the Salish Sea greeted us placidly. Sometimes this great weather is too much. Captain Mike, myself, and a newbie, Alexandria headed out with a great group of folks to find some fun creatures out in the wilds of the sea. We headed north to the place where we had spotted some orcas earlier that morning in San Juan Channel. We soon found them again in Spieden Channel and guess what?! It was one of our most favorite Transient Orca families, the T2C’s! They were hunting in Spieden Channel in between Spieden and Sentinel Islands, and for good reason. This whole area is chock full of their favorite foods. Almost all of the rocks in the area are covered with Harbor Seals and at Green Point on Spieden Island there is a fairly large colony of Steller Sea Lions. We watched the T2C’s as they traveled west through Spieden Channel, snuck around Sentinel Island, and split up to cover both sides of Sentinel Rocks – a great place to find their favorite food, Harbor Seals. They did not get any that time but we continued to watch them as they rounded the western point of Spieden Island. We left them for a little while to go check out the teenie-tiny Mouflon sheep lambs running along Spieden Island. Also, on Spieden we saw a ton of adult and juvenile Bald Eagles as well! Near the eastern end of Spieden Island we got to see a large colony Steller Sea Lions resting and growling on the rocks there. We had some more time left in the tour so we went back to see those Transient Orcas once again, and I am very glad we did! The T2C’s were in full hunt mode. All five of them were rolling and splashing around taking down a Harbor Seal in the waters near Stuart Island. It looked like the younger ones were getting to learn some hunting techniques too and then they spent some time socializing after eating their fill. It was so cool to watch and experience these large animals in action. After that amazing show of splashes, jumps, and flukes we headed back to Friday Harbor. Just another great day in the islands! Hope to see you all soon!


Until next time,

Naturalist Erick

San Juan Safaris