May 21, 2018

Humpback Whale and Orcas in the Salish Sea - Sunday, May 13, 2018

Orcas at Saturna Islands

[Sarah – 05/13/2018 – M/V Kittiwake – 12:00pm]


Mother’s Day, and it was my first trip on M/V Kittiwake for the year! I love taking groups out on our smallest boat, because I really get to know the folks onboard, and we can tailor the trip to a smaller group’s needs. Captain Pete and I left the dock with no reports of whales in the area, so we decided to embark on our own search pattern. Soon into our trip we got a report of a humpback whale in the Strait of Georgia and decided to head that way.

Humpback whales are the fourth or fifth largest whales in the world, depending on how you measure whales… either by weight or by length! As a baleen-ed whale, or mysticete, humpbacks are typically solitary. The whale we encountered was traveling and a wide looping pattern before raising its tail into the air before taking longer deeper dives. While we were watching the humpback, Captain Pete got a radio call… orcas close by! Not to miss an opportunity to see two species in one day, we got our last look at that whale before peeling away!

We met up with the orcas on the Saturna shoreline, and quickly realized that we were looking at Bigg’s marine mammal-eating killer whales. Looking at the dorsal fins in front of us we quickly realized that one of the whales was the famous T063 Chainsaw, with some pretty significant chunks out of the back of his fin. We watched as the whales cruised past East Point and Boiling Reef startling sea lions on Boiling Reef.

After a great encounter with the whales we decided to weave our way back towards the San Juan Islands. On the way back towards the islands we were able to catch some glimpses of harbor seas and harbor porpoise!

Filed by:

Captain, Lead Naturalist & Vessel Coordinator

Sarah M.


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