June 1, 2019

Rare Gray Orca Whale Sighting in Canada! 06/01/19

Jordan | M/V Kestresl | 06/01/19 | 11:00am

Today was basically the most magical day. And no, I’m not being dramatic. It’s true. It started with our first trip leaving Friday Harbor at around 11:30am. And although it was a tad later than usual, it was definitely worth the wait!

Captain Gabe and I sped out of the harbor and headed north through the San Juan Channel up towards Speiden Island. Here we stopped to check out some floppy seals! There were a bunch of harbor seals close to the water and basking in the sun. They were so endearing as they flopped around, and a couple accidentally fell in the water!

Then right above the seals was a gorgeous bald eagle perched in a tree! His three-foot-tall body swaying in the light breeze. Another bird flew in the distance, probably his mate!

Then we sped off across the Haro Strait and into Canada! We boated past Salt Spring Island and down alongside Vancouver Island. Here we found transient (Bigg’s) killer whales! We specifically identified these whales as the T46B’s! This pod was absolutely amazing to watch as they swam through the Canadian waters. But suddenly we saw what made this pod incredibly special! T46B1B! This baby whale emerged from the water close to his mom and showed us his unique pale gray skin tone! He was gray! All other orca whales are black and white. But, this special little guy has a special condition called Leucism! This means there’s a partial loss of pigmentation in an animal that results in white, pale or patchy coloration of the skin, but not in the eyes. So, although similar to albinism, it is a separate phenomenon.

But, then it got even more exciting as all the whales suddenly decided to turn and head straight towards our boat! Everyone was freaking out! Especially me. Gabe shut off the engines and we all gathered around as this rare gray orca whale and his family swam a mere two feet from our boat! I can’t express how magical this moment felt. Unbelievable.

Eventually we had to leave Canada and head back down to American waters but our hearts were so full of joy.