July 17, 2019
Killer Whales and Rainbow Skies!!
Laura C. | 7/17/2019 | M/V Sea Lion | 5:30pm
This evening’s whale watch was simply magical! Captain Pete manned the helm and ventured north to Swanson Channel. Our passengers were thrilled to find a family of Bigg’s killer whales traveling near North Pender Island! This family was quickly identified as the T60s, with the lead matriarch estimated to be 39 years old! T60C is a large male that was born in 2001 and he stood out as a powerful bull compared to his younger and smaller siblings.
As the family surged through the water’s surface, we were able to get glimpses of their heads and beautiful eye patches. These eye patch markings are unique to each individual, just like saddle patches and dorsal fins. With a newly published Bigg’s killer whale photo ID catalog in tow, passengers were able to appreciate the different characteristics of every individual comprising this unique family. Naturalists never like to compare trips with one another, as every wildlife excursion is meaningful and wonderful in its own way, but today’s sunset voyage was perfect.
Once we had our last looks at the T60s we headed southbound towards San Juan Island. Along the way we saw harbor seals, harbor porpoises and bald eagles! We even saw harbor seal pups along the rocks of nearby islands which is always exciting to see! These pups tear at our hearts because their adorable personalities remind us of our dogs at home! Spieden Island was an ungulate hot spot today, supporting an entire population of thriving Mouflon sheep! These wild sheep can weigh up to 35kgs for females and 50kgs for males!
As our journey was approaching it’s end for the day, we approached a sun shower and were mystified at the beautiful rainbows filling the sky overhead! I have never seen so many gorgeous rainbows around the islands. We saw double rainbows and completely full rainbows, spanning all the way to the water’s surface. Passengers didn’t care about getting wet in the rain to have the opportunity to view such a vision and snap some photos! The sky created a magical world around us that was indescribable, and personally I will remember this as a trip of a lifetime!