October 27, 2018

Orcas and wildlife near San Juan Island| 10/27/2018 | M/V Sea Lion | 12:00pm

Bigg's killer whale

Sarah | 10/27/2018 | M/V Sea Lion | 12:00pm

This time of year you just have no idea what you’ll see out on the water here in the Salish Sea, and Saturday’s trip was a great example of the amazing array of wildlife you can see in a single trip!

After leaving Friday Harbor we started encountering wildlife. Almost immediately we encountered a pair of bald eagles and a Steller’s sea lion. After some great looks with the wildlife we continued north towards Canada. On the way we stopped to find some harbor seals hauled out at White Rock near Waldron Island.

As we made our way into Boundary Pass we got amazingly lucky and found a group of Dall’s porpoise. These small cetaceans are the fastest marine mammals in the world, and we got an amazing looks at their incredible power as they zipped around our boat. While we were watching the porpoise I got a phone call from one of our kayak guides, “Hey! Do you want to see some orcas?!” We whipped around and headed back towards San Juan Island in search of some black and whites.

We found the group of whales in Spieden Channel on the San Juan Island side of the waterway, and we quickly realized that we had three very special animals. We can tell the difference between individual orcas by looking at their dorsal fins and saddle patch markings. On Saturday we realized that we had a group of Bigg’s killer whales, and were able to identify the fins of the T065A kids traveling without their mother T065A and youngest siblings. We don’t fully understand how Bigg’s killer whales disperse away from their mothers, but some scientists think this short-term dispersal might have to do with the births of news calves into family groups. We got to see this small group of ragamuffins hunting and socializing as they meandered their way down into San Juan Channel.

We had an amazing diversity of wildlife on the water… October just keeps getting better.