July 2, 2019

Killer Whales Socializing Near Orcas Island!

Erin | M/V Sea Lion | Tuesday, July 2, 2019 | 5:30 PM

What an excellent sunset trip in the Salish Sea! We began our trip heading northeast out of Friday Harbor. We knew there were whales near East Sound on Orcas Island, so we went to investigate to see if we could find them. On our way there, we traversed through some smaller islands and got some amazing views. We were also lucky because the rain subsided and the sun was starting to shine when we left the harbor! We made it to Obstruction Pass on Orcas Island, and we came across four orcas. They were transient, or Bigg's, killer whales. They were identified as the T65B's and T65A2. T65A2 is a 15 year old male who was travelling with his aunt and his cousins. His aunt is 33 years old, and one of his cousins 8. The other cousin is a new calf! 

When we first started watching the whales, they were travelling in a circling/zigzagging pattern, and it appeared as if they were looking for food. They continued that behavior for a while, but then they began to be playful and it seemed like they were socializing with each other. The calf kept rolling over the adults' backsides, and it urged other members of the pod to play with it. We got to see a cou[ple of amazing spyhops. One was from the calf and the other was from one of the adults. Even T65A2, the male orca, rolled around a couple of times-displaying his very wide tail! Towards the end of the encounter, we saw two Steller's sea lions pop their heads up out of the water on the portside of our boat. They were so close to where the orcas were, and we were wondered if they were going to turn out to be dinner, but we never saw any evidence that the orcas caught them. It was such a peaceful evening of watching orcas. We got to hear their powerful exhalations and see some really amazing behaviors. As we got back to the harbor, the sun began to set, making a beautiful finale to our trip! 

Naturalist Erin