May 5, 2022

Orca Whales in Orcas’ Eastsound

Maxx K | M/V Sea Lion | 05/05/2022 | 12:30pm

    It was a cold and dreary Cinco de Mayo! Skies were gray and absolutely everything was sopping wet yet there were whales to be seen so Sea Lion moseyed out of Friday Harbor and off towards a report of whales inter island. 

    We didn't make many pit stops on our journey there, instead opting to wrap Sea Lion down and around the northern tip of Lopez and into Orcas’s Eastsound. At this point the rain was horizontal. No one shall be dry today!

    It wasn't too long before we saw our first Killer Whale, an individual whale named T049A1 (“Noah”). This big 21 year-old boy surfaced off our port, then again at our bow. He slowly broke the water, his massive dorsal fin towering over the choppy sea below him. We idled next to him for several minutes before another family appeared from further inside Eatsound, racing toward our starboard. 

    These were the T075Bs, a family of four whales known to be spring time visitors here in the San Juans (the youngest member having been born in 2021). They porpoised past both us and T049A1, surfacing in perfect unison. We moved away from the lone male and paralleled ourselves with the speedy family. They raced through the water for several miles before their behavior suddenly changed. Next they rolled over one another, zipping from left to right, sporadic surfacings; these whales were hunting. Sea Lion stopped and watched as the family whipped across the surface of the water, inching closer and closer to our now stopped boat. 

    They emerged next immediately to our starboard, close enough to see their shiny white eye patches disappear under our hull and reemerge again off our port. The family of four continued moving on for maybe another 100 yards before the water turned red: Whatever they were hunting had met its end. The birds joined in and the family continued with sporadic surfacings, most of the action happening underneath the water. We watched the hardworking family for just a few more moments before moving away, back home to Friday Harbor.