May 5, 2014

Rare Encounter with 20+ Biggs Killer Whales!

We left our Friday Harbor location today and headed north with hopes of intercepting some killer whales that we had heard were traveling through the area. The weather definitely wasn’t cooperating- it was cold, windy, and rainy! However, a little weather never stops us when killer whales are involved! Guests soon settled in the heated cabin as we headed into the Canadian Gulf Islands. When we got on seen with the whales, what we ended up witnessing was something we never would have expected!

There were more than twenty Biggs killer whales in between Salt Spring and Portland Island, British Columbia, today. It was an incredible encounter. Biggs killer whales, or Transient killer whales, are mammal hunters; their social structure, behavior, underwater acoustics, and other aspects of their lives are highly adapted to exploit this prey resource. To see so many Transients in one area, and displaying resting behavior (which only accounts for less than 3% of their activity budget) is extremely rare. There’s really only one time where this kind of killer whale would be so docile, and that’s when they don’t have to worry about consuming prey.

We watched in awe as these magnificent animals glided through the water in their large family groups, socializing and traveling without a care. We even got to see little T065A5, a new calf who was first seen in March of this year! Other family groups included the T023s, T036’s, T100’s, T101A, T102, and T124’s. It was a magically peaceful day listening to the “koof, koof, koof” of the surfacing twenty plus Orcas!

 

Heather, Naturalist, M/V Sea Lion

San Juan Safaris