September 6, 2020

A Raw Moment with Bigg's Killer Whales near San Juan Island

Bigg's Killer Whales Off Spieden Island

Olivia | M/V Sea Lion | Septemeber 6th, 2020 | 13:00

The best thing about viewing wildlife is the pure fact that they are WILD! Every behavior is based on their timeline and comprised of raw moments they would be partaking in with or without us in the vicinity. That means, some days we travel almost 2 hours one way to see whales, some days we only have 3 sea lions hauled out opposed to 15, and some days we get lucky when they come right near San Juan Island and make the day feel somewhat easy to view such pristine moments.  Today happened to be one of those days as we were lucky enough to spot a few Bigg’s Killer Whales in Spieden Channel just north of San Juan Island.

This ecotype of Killer Whale feeds on marine mammals and are considered healthy from a conservation standpoint. During the summer months, we see family groups visit our waters more frequently as they come to feed on the growing Harbor Seal and even Harbor Porpoise population as they are giving birth. That predator-prey relationship is what helps keep our entire ecosystem in check, and we are so grateful for it!

The family of Bigg’s Killer Whales we were able to view so close to home today were the T018’s. This is a family of four:

Grandma[T018], Esperanza, born roughly around 1955

Mother [T019], Nootka, born roughly around 1965

Eldest Son [T019B], Galiano, born in 1995

Youngest Son [T019C], Spouter, born in 2001

This family is one of our favorites to see and watching them hug the shoreline in search of prey was such a primal orca moment that brought a lot of excitement to our guests. Eventually we split off from this group and went in search of other wildlife. Circling Spieden Island we were able to see heaps Mouflon Sheep, Sika Deer, Fallow Deer, Bald Eagles, Harbor Seals, a Bald Eagle nest, and feeding Turkey Vultures. The gorgeous day filled with a wide variety of wildlife was a special treat amid a crazy 2020 year.