June 22, 2018

Predation Presentation - Hunting Bigg's Killer Whales

Hunting a porpoise

Jordan | June 21, 2018 | M/V Kestrel | 2:00

The day boasted a brilliant sunshine but also a bombardment of wind. And with wind comes waves which made today quite the adventure! Captain Mike took our boat up north through the San Juan Channel to Boundary Pass in between Waldron and Stuart islands.  

Off of Turn Point on Stuart we found a group of Bigg’s orca whales! In fact, we caught these T65As amidst a hunting session! Diving erratically and swimming all around through the huge waves, the whales chased a harbor porpoise! And finally, we saw the carcass! The whales hauled up huge chunks of porpoise and we witnessed prey sharing. It’s the circle of life and we just love to see nature at work! Amongst the chaos was one of our youngest Bigg’s whales, T65A6, who is just a few months old! Part of the hunting party, he is still learning the proper techniques and strategy behind killing prey. His big brother was also there, T65A2, with his towering dorsal fin, to set a great example of how exactly to behave. What an exciting event to witness.

Since the waves were getting pretty wild, we decided to head towards calmer waters and turned back south. We arrived at Turn Island, really close to Friday Harbor, and found the other ecotype of orcas: the Southern Residents. Specifically, we found L pod who swam really close to shore, perhaps to minimize the effort against the current. They showed us some tail slaps and swam fairly close to our boat! Captain Mike had to shut off our engine a few times to ensure we were being respectful of the whales and following regulations.

What a fantastic day on the water!