June 17, 2019

Humpback and Killer Whales Encompass the San Juan Islands

Bigg's Killer Whales near Boundary Pass Two Humpbacks Feed in the Salish Sea; Photograph by Tori Lee

Olivia | June 17, 2019 | M/V Kestrel | 11:00am

This chilly day on the water turned out to be awfully spectacular.  We received word about a possible Killer Whale sighting near Waldron Island that was heading north. On route to follow this hint, we stopped near Spieden Island and saw 4 Bald Eagles and continued through John’s Pass to view heaps of Harbor Seals. Being a very low tide today, there were plenty of small, rocky islands for these tiny Pinnipeds to roost on while they laid in the sun to thermoregulate. Captain Gabe and I continued on and surprisingly saw the same Humpback Whale duo as yesterday, Divot and Stitch, as they were feeding on the north side of Boundary Pass. Averaging around 6-minute dives, we were able to have great conversation while they dove, and breathtaking moments as they hung near the surface.

After viewing these two for quite some time, we agreed to go find the Killer Whales we initially heard about before they were out of range. This family group of about 7 Bigg’s Killer Whales was thought to be the T46B’s. They were quite zig-zaggy, but casually milling in the area. We normally see Bigg’s Killer Whales traveling in smaller family groups opposed to the entire pod, because they must essentially “sneak up” on their smarter, larger prey. While viewing the large sea pandas, we even spotted a few Moon Jellyfish! The majority of our 10 passengers have never seen a Killer Whale or a Humpback Whale and today they witnessed about 9 individual cetaceans. How remarkable! These tours filled with “firsts” are so pure and unforgettable, I am grateful to be a part of it.