July 21, 2019

Killer Whale Feeding Frenzy in the Golden Glassy Seas

Bigg's Killer Whales near San Juan Island

Olivia | July 21st, 2019 | M/V Kestrel | 3:00pm

PSA: Long Blog for an epic afternoon!

After having an incredible morning trip, Captain Gabe and I set out again to find the whales we had the opportunity to see in the morning, and potentially stumble upon some more. As we were leaving Friday Harbor, we already saw both a Bald Eagle and a Harbor Seal. We continued up towards Spieden Island and were able to observe some lazier Harbor Seals with their pups in addition to Fallow Deer (Europe) and Sika Deer (East Asia) with their large antlers perched up on top of the hill under some tree coverage. As we continued along the southern side of the island, we witnessed a bird of prey feeding frenzy! We counted around 11 Bald Eagles and Turkey Vultures feeding on a deceased Mouflon Sheep (Corsica) on the exposed side of the hill. Similar to the Turkey Vultures, Bald Eagles are primarily scavengers, making this an easy dinner.

We crossed over towards Moresby Island and found the T46B’s milling around. Actively respecting the wildlife and federal laws, we kept our distance of 200 meters. This group of Bigg’s Killer Whales vanished on a dive, and in anticipation of their unpredictable surfacing, our Captain turned off the engine so we could listen for them. All of a sudden, they surfaced not too far away and started heading right towards us, proceeding to dive underneath our boat and pop up on the other side. Yes folks, we got mugged by whales and our passengers sure didn’t mind!

Shortly after this, they started their own feeding frenzy as well! Lunging towards the same area, lobtailing, a few pectoral smacks, and tossing that Harbor Seal straight up in the air! All the while, the sun started to lower from the sky kicking off the afternoon golden glow along the glassy sea. Looking up above the large marine mammals, the clouds swooshed like a brush running low on white paint. Aesthetically pleasing environments always make for an extra incredible experience.

As we worked our way back to Friday Harbor, we passed a Pink Salmon leaping out of the water. This is the year they run, and unlike the Chinook Salmon, this smaller species hangs more towards the surface of the water. We also spotted heaps of Harbor Seals and Harbor Porpoises swimming around underneath the green seas and green trees on the north side of Spieden Island. Gabe described it replicating that of a lake. Although the weather, sea conditions, and wildlife always keep us on our toes with every new day, its hard to beat ones like this. Come be a part of the daily surprise in our Salish Sea and SEA for yourself!