April 20, 2019

Happy Earth Day! T65A and Her Orca Family Jump Around Turn Point!

Bigg's Orcas

Erick | Saturday, April, 20, 2019 | M/V Sea Lion | 12:00 

Happy Earth Day! 

This was a sunny Earth Day out in the San Juan Islands. Captain Pete, Alex, and myself took a large group out to celebrate the day and find some other great denizens of Earth out there. We headed north through San Juan Channel and into President Channel where we had a few Bald Eagles soar above us. After we passed Waldron Island we stopped by Bare Island to look at the Harbor Seals that were trying to escape the wind on the south side of the large rock. We continued northwest towards Stewart Island and Turn Point - the last point in the USA. We slowed down to take a gander at the lighthouse that is on the point here adjacent to a pretty significant cliff. As we slowly rounded the point and cruised among the swirling currents we saw some blows! It was a family of orcas! This was a family of Bigg's (formerly known as Transient) Orcas. OF the two ecotypes of orcas that we normally see in these waters the Bigg's Orcas are the ones that hunt marine mammals. Theri main food sources are Harbor Seals and Harbor Porpoises! This type also usually travels in smaller one-family groups. This was a family group of 6 different orcas called the T65A's! It is a family of T65A, the matriarch, and five of her kids. This is the normal set up for and orca family. Each family is led by the oldest female and she is usually leading her offspring. Once we started watching them it looked like they had just started to be quite social. Every one was flipping around, tail slapping, and spyhopping, and then the tiny baby breached! This young one, T65A6. is just around a year old and has always been so playful. It spent the rest of the time getting pushed up and around on his siblings faces. The riding on top of your siblings and mom's heads seems to be one of the most fun games in orca world. Some of the older sibling started to push each other around as well and held their tails up straight in the air and sometimes would cartwheel! They were having such a great time and it was wonderful to just float there in the current and watch them have a blast. We soon had to head towards Friday Harbor but took a few more stops on Spieden Island to look at all the Bald Eagles and a huge group of Steller Sea Lions sunning themselves on the rocks. It turned out that everyone out there was celebrating earth day! Whale folks, until next time!

Erick

Bigg's Orcas
Bigg's Orca Tail Slap