June 24, 2021

Salmon Bank Socializing of Bigg's Killer Whales

Bigg's Killer Whales South of San Juan Island

Olivia | M/V Osprey | June 24th, 2021 | 12:30pm

Starting off in search of whales, we always make sure to look where their food is. This means areas of upwelling or currents that are stirring up nutrients attracting small bait fish. This bait fish attracts Harbor Porpoise, Harbor Seals, and Baleen Whales. All of these mammals attract our primary population of orcas- the Bigg’s Killer Whales. Scanning these “hot spots” are like checking out all the mini buffets and gives us an opportunity to see what may be utilizing this big food source here in one of the most productive waters in the entire world. 


This took us towards Salmon Bank south of San Juan Island. And to our luck, we came upon 9 Bigg’s Killer Whales! This included T077C, T077D, T128, T125A, T036, and T036B’s! We were with them as they continued to travel east, watching as they socialized, split apart, and reunited again. It was incredible to see so many families hanging out with one another, reminding us that while this ecotype typically travels with just mum and her calves, like us, they also want to see their friends and family. 


We eventually pulled away and traveled north towards Whale Rocks checking out some migratory birds, Harbor Seals and Steller’s Sea Lions. Passing Harbor Porpoise heading back towards the Friday Harbor allotted us a great reflection on all the species that utilize these same waterways and the privilege we have to share it with them.