July 1, 2021

Gregarious Killer Whales off Waldron Island

Orca Spy Hop

Maxx K. | M/V Sea Lion | 07/01/2021 | 2:00 


    It was a gorgeous afternoon on the water today, a perfect 70 degrees and calm as could be as we left Friday harbor with a boatful of excited guests. We turned northward, heading up and through the San Juan channel following rumors of whales approaching Waldron Island. We passed Jones Island and Orcas on our journey, weaving between the islands as they slowly began to rise further out of the water with the outgoing tide. 

    From there it was only a matter of minutes before we saw them: T077C and T077D hugging the shoreline. They were impossible to miss! Immediately we were treated to breaching, tail slapping and spy hopping, behaviors we don't always get to witness, especially with Bigg’s Killer Whales. Bigg’s are known to be quite cryptic and stealthy as they’re moving through the water so displays like the ones we were witnessing were quite the treat! 

    We followed at a distance as they circumnavigated Waldron Island. It was incredible to see just how close they were to the shoreline, their dorsal fins rising mere feet from the rocky beaches.

    After about thirty minutes we moved onward, rounding over the west side of Waldron and towards White Rock. We sat alongside the lonely island for several moments and admired the dozens of harbor seals hauled out on the rocks above. They seemed almost unaware of a Bald Eagle surveying them from higher on the Island, likely waiting to scavenge leftover fish from an unsuspecting seal. 

    Now, I know this sounds super cliche, but I keep finding my experiences out here on the Salish Sea to be super random. I truly believe whale watching out here is just like a box of chocolates, you truly never know what’s in store with each afternoon, let alone tour!