June 9, 2021

Feeding Bigg's Killer Whales near San Juan Island

Bigg's Killer Whale Breaching

Olivia | M/V Osprey | June 9th, 2021 | 12:30pm 

Heading south through San Juan Channel, we started our whale watching adventure by checking in on a whale rumor in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. By the time we passed Cattle Point Lighthouse, we caught sight of black dorsal fins on the southwest side of San Juan Island. This was a delighted sight since the initial reports were far south in an area called Hein Bank, a shallow bank in the big waters if the strait. Bigg’s Killer Whales and been found to travel over 100 miles in a day, therefore this sudden shift closer inland was no surprise- and even a grateful appearance!

We found ourselves in great company of the T065A’s (minus T065A5 who was on his own adventure with another family) traveling with two large males- T125A and T128- who just so happened to be brothers! It is not uncommon to see multiple families hanging out together since these sentient beings are family and friend oriented, just like us! As of 2021, there is a “No Go Zone” ¼ mile off the west side of San Juan Island, meaning we must abide by that and stay offshore as these 7 whales pushed inland in search of Harbor Seals to feed on.

This distance did impact our viewing one bit, especially since shortly after, they started going crazy feeding. The large males began full body breaching with their six-foot dorsal fins flying in the air. Just then, all the younger orcas started lunging in the same area, learning from this behavior, and getting in on the action. We were able to view this crazy behavior for a good while before we slowly trailed away, back in search mode of other things lurking in the Salish Sea.

Creeping north through Spieden Channel outside of Roche Harbor, we were able to view more Harbor Seals, Harbor Porpoise, Bald Eagles, Mouflon Sheep, Fallow Deer, and lots of migratory birds. This trip was packed full of wildlife and definitely one for the books.