September 5, 2022

Killer Whale Mania in Roche Harbor

Maxx K. | M/V Kestrel | 09/06/2022 | 10:00am

    When Kestrel zoomed up towards Spieden Island, we had no idea where we’d be seeing whales, let alone if there were whales close enough around to see! A rumor of some Bigg’s Killer Whales south of Victoria was all we needed to begin making moves, speeding off through the Haro. We only made it a few miles before we screeched to a halt- three blows appeared along the San Juan shoreline, followed by another, and another! 

    The T049A matralines of whales have been hanging around for a couple of weeks now! They milled around off Open Bay before slowly peeling away from the reefs, now cruising along the Henry Island shoreline northbound. Like clockwork we circled around, only a few hundred yards behind where we were then greeted by the T060’s and the T002c’s. And much to my delight they were aimed directly for mosquito pass. This narrow channel divides Henry Island from San Juan, at it’s furthest point it’s maybe 600 yards wide. At it’s most narrow, it’s merely 300. Mosquito pass opens up into Roche Harbor, which on Labor Day, is packed full of private vessels and out of town visitors. 

I often wonder what motivates whales to travel into these narrow spaces. We were looking at seven whales, moving in unison while also traveling fin by fin through the narrow channel. Eventually we popped out of Roche Harbor where we once again sat in front of Spieden Island. At this point the two matralines reunited, the T049a’s that wrapped around the west and the T060’s that took the eastern route. 

We waved the whales goodbye from here, making speedy passes along Jones and through the Wasp Islands on our way back to Friday Harbor!