May 13, 2022

Surprise Bigg’s Killer Whales Just Outside Friday Harbor

Maxx K. | M/V Kestrel | 05/13/2022 | 2:00pm

    Today was pretty dang close to perfect. It kicked off strongly as a good hour before Kestrel untied from the jetty, two bull Bigg's Killer Whales passed directly in front of Friday Harbor. I could see their tall six ft dorsal fins cut the surface of the water through my binoculars here at the office. 

    When we left the harbor for our adventure tour, we decided to save the whales for last. We opted instead to start by heading out into the Juan de Fuca and scope out for any baleen whales that might be feeding over Salmon bank. We stopped at several bait balls, indicated by a flock of gulls and aucklets that sat on the water's surface. We gave it a good scan but when no blows appeared on the horizon we decided to circle back into the San Juan Channel, stopping to check out one elusive eagle, and eventually chill out with some Steller Sea Lions that lounged on the Whale Rocks. 

    The two Killer Whales, T087 (“Harbeson”) and T124C (“Cooper”) slowly pushed their way through the harshly flooding San Juan Channel, like racing on a treadmill. They surfaced in unison, one after the other. We sat with them for 15 minutes before another family was picked up just above Lopez island.

    This family of seven was determined to be the T124A’s, T124C’s older sister and her children. Were they just departing one another after a bit of a family reunion? This family group was made up of mostly females and juveniles- each newborn coming to surface with its much larger mother. Unlike their brother and uncle, this family decided to wrap themselves up the San Juan Channel northward. We paralleled alongside them for several minutes, waving down several speeding yachts in the process, before slowly moseying back to Friday Harbor that waited for us directly off our port! 

I just want to thank you all for coming out with us- y'all were a hoot and a half and a true joy to watch whales with out on the water today!