August 1, 2022

"Kittiwake" and the Gang in Plummer Sound

Kelly | M/V Osprey | 8/1/22 | 12:30

It was a picture-perfect summer day as we left Friday harbor and headed north in San Juan Channel. After quickly cruising up the channel, we stopped at Flattop Island. This island was bustling with wildlife! Multiple bald eagles soared over head as harbor seals lounged along the shoreline. A solo bald eagle was perched along the shoreline with its talons dug into a carcass. We watched as the impressive raptor pulled apart the animal’s flesh with its blood-stained beak. A gruesome but captivating circle-of-life moment. As we continued transiting north, Harbor porpoise surfaced on the starboard side of the vessel. These smaller cetaceans often favor larger areas of water with increased upwelling or ripping on the water’s surface. After surfacing once more, the notoriously shy cetaceans remained out of sight. Soon, we were passing between South Pender and Saturna island and into Plummer Sound. Just north of us in the distance, black dorsal fins followed by white smoke-like exhalations came into view. We were officially on scene with a family of Biggs killer whales! Captain Gabe slowed the vessel down to under 7 knots as we slowly moved into our 200-yard viewing distance. This family of killer whales is known as the T124A’S and consists of: • T124a (Kittiwake) • T124a3 (Wasini) • T124a3a (Spindrift/Alethia) • T124a4 (Sabio) • T124a6 (kasuua) T124a (Kittiwake) is the matriarch of this family and was traveling with 3 children (T124a3, t124a4 & T124a6) and one grandchild (t124a3a). While the family was on a particularly long dive, we kept our heads on a swivel anticipating where the group might pop up next. Unexpectedly, the family surfaced just off the stern of our vessel! Captain Gabe shut the engine off, and we quietly drifted in the water listening to the calming, rhythmic exhalations as each whale surfaced next to us. Every single one of us on the boat felt so lucky to have been a part of such an amazing encounter. Thank you to everyone that joined us on this unforgettable Classic Whale Watch and Wildlife Tour with San Juan Safaris.