August 20, 2020

Killer Whales Swoosh Past San Juan Island

Bigg's Killer Whales in Haro Strait

Olivia | M/V Kestrel | August 20, 2020 | 14:00

Leaving the dock, we had a rumored report of Bigg’s Killer Whales in U.S. waters but inching closer to the Canadian border. Due to Covid-19, that border is closed not only on land, but also across the water. Therefore, after a brief stop in Cattle Pass to get the passengers on board with our game plan and be in tune with our surroundings, we headed straight to find the group of six black and white dolphins.

Upon arrival, we spotted the T060’s and T002B amidst the swell traveling close together. It was a happy sight to be greeted by two large male dorsal fins, and even a young calf. It is a fulfilling feeling to witness Killer Whale family groups traveling together, but even more so when we are able to experience a wide range of ages and both genders. After spending time with the mammal eating ecotype, we watched as they crossed the Canadian border and stayed until they were fully out of sight. We spent this time chatting about life history, research in the Salish Sea, their conservation status, as well as all the mindboggling information that makes these species extra intelligent and connecting.

Peeling off, we headed south to Hein Bank in search of other cetaceans. We found a couple lunge feeding Minke Whales, the smallest of all the ‘Great Whales’. After spending some time appreciating the calm waters of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, we headed north towards San Juan Channel, passing Harbor Porpoise all along the way. We made a stop at Whale Rocks to view Harbor Seals and Steller’s Sea Lions, the largest sea lions in the world! What a fun day navigating around San Juan Island viewing both Pinnipeds and Cetaceans.