March 14, 2019

Orcas Everywhere! Three families of Bigg's Killer Whales meet in Boundary Pass!

Bigg's male orca tail slapping

Erick | Thursday, March 14, 2019 | M/V Sea Lion | 12:00

 

This Thursday still felt a little bit like winter. It was quite chilly with a grey sky above. Captain Mike and I headed north to go check out a report of Orcas up in Boundary Pass. We traveled through San Juan Channel and headed past Spieden and Stewart Islands into Boundary Pass. Right in Between Gooch Island and Moresby Island we saw some blows up ahead! It was not just one but two families of Orcas. Both of these families belong to the ecotype that feeds on marine mammals in our waters, called Bigg’s or Transient Orcas/Killer Whales. The families that we were watching were the T10’s and the T2C’s. Both of these families together are pretty amazing and there are a a few adult males, adult females, and some young ones so we could see the whole spectrum of orca shapes. We watched as they continued north and were on the lookout for food. It appears as they passed Moresby Island they were catching a bunch of Harbor Seals. This is their main food source in this area and it was great to see them getting a bunch of food to feed their families. After they caught and at a few it looks like it was party time. After eating orcas often take time to socialize! These two families grouped up close and started to tail-slap together! A few of them turned upside down showing off their white bellies while a few others did cartwheels (This is when they throw their tails laterally out of the water and make a big splash)! It was so fun to watch them play and celebrate with the backdrop of the beautiful tree covered rocky islands that dot the seascape here. We looked at them for a quite a bite more time and then headed back south east of Stewart Island. Here in the middle of Boundary Pass we saw another group of Bigg’s Orcas! It was the T49A’s! This was another large family and they were traveling fast down the channel. This is probably because they heard all the commotion from the other families and wanted to come say hello! We watched them for awhile as they grouped up with some tail slaps and headed towards where we left the other orcas! We hope they have fun. We continued on our way through the narrow Johns Pass, then on to SPieden Island where we saw a ton of Bald Eagles, Harbor Seals, Fallow Deer, Mouflon Sheep, and finally Steller Sea Lions! All on one Island! Pretty spectacular I know! Days can’t get much better than this. We hope to see you all visit us soon.

 

Until then,

 

Erick