July 12, 2021

Surprise Bigg’s Killer Whales in the Juan De Fuca

bigg's killer whale

Maxx K. | M/V Kestrel | 07/12/2021 | 2:00pm

 

Captain Sarah and I decided to head south this afternoon, trying our luck in finding whales off the various banks that rise up in the Juan De Fuca. After passing Goose Island to admire some nesting Pelagic Cormorants we continued out of the San Juan Channel. 

We then slowed over Salmon Bank at our first baitball, gulls and Rhinoceros Auklets flocking tightly over an unseen ball of fish below. The anticipation built as we waited, hoping for a lunge feeding whale that unfortunately never came. Kestrel bobbed there for only a minute or two before our sister vessel, Osprey, cracked over the radio. Killer Whales had been spotted. 

With Osprey in sight only a few miles ahead of us we moved off toward the reports! 

Arriving on scene we were immediately treated to a family known as the T037A’s. This family of five Bigg’s Orcas were tail slapping, head lobbing, and rolling over one another as they joyously played with bull kelp. Kestrel carefully moved alongside them as they carried on north towards Long Island. There was never a dull moment. Like clockwork, the second one whale dove beneath the surface another came to take its place! 

From there we briefly departed to admire some Steller Sea Lions on the Whale Rocks. You could smell them before you could see them: these Sea Lions have occupied this rock for months now, staining the island with their fishy salty Sea Lion scent. The sea churned beneath us, tossing Kestrel around as we admired the pinnipeds in front of us.  

We got one final glimpse of the Killer Whale family as they powered through the ripping current flowing through the San Juan Channel. They hugged the shoreline tightly as they moved northbound, leading us back home to Friday Harbor.