September 19, 2020

Southern Resident Killer Whales Fish off of False Bay!

Southern Resident Killer Whale

Erick | M/V Sea Lion | Saturday, September 19, 2020 | 1:00 PM



The skies finally cleared today when Captain Sarah and I ventured out to search for wildlife in the Salish Sea. We headed south after getting reports that the Southern Residents had been spotted near the southern end of San Juan Island! As we headed down, we made a stop at Whale Rocks to look at the Steller Sea Lions and the Harbor Seals. After looking at those growly pinnipeds we continued on our way and headed towards False Bay. As we neared False Bay, we started to see fins! It was the Southern Residents! They were all very spread out fishing for their preferred prey, Chinook Salmon. The Southern Residents Killer Whales are the Critically Endangered ecotype that we see in the Salish Sea sometimes. There are only 73 individuals left and their decline has matched the decline of their main food source, the Chinook Salmon. Historically they would be in the inland waters for most of every summer, but the past few years we have not seen them too many times. So, every opportunity to see them is extremely special. We stopped a viewed several different groups throughout our time there. I believe most of the whales we saw were members of J pod. We got some great looks as they dove deep to catch fish. We got some great views of the J14s for a while when they started to harass a Harbor Porpoise! This behavior is rarely observed by humans, and we are not sure why they do it. Southern Resident Killer Whales do not eat the porpoises, but they will “play” with it and it will eventually die. They will swim next to it, pass it around, and sometimes toss it or body-slam it! It was crazy to watch, and we saw them body slam it as well! We watched this for a while until it was time to go. It is always special to see the Southern Residents these days, and even more special when they do incredibly rare behaviors right in front of us. What around great day in the Salish Sea!


Stay Whale folks,