August 30, 2020

Surprise Killer Whales Leap in the Rainfall

Killer Whale Breaches in Salish Sea

Olivia | M/V Kestrel | August 30th, 2020 | 14:00

It was the iconic Pacific Northwest weather today, going into the trip with sunshine and warmth, and ending the trip in rain and clouds. However, we do not let the shift in weather get us down just like it does not get down the whales- our trip proved this theory! We were lucky enough to leave Friday Harbor and immediately between Turn and Shaw Islands, we saw a Minke Whale! The Minke Whale fought against the nickname “Slinky Minke” because this baleen whale continued in the same direction with lots of surface time. This provided one of the best and closest viewings of the smallest “Great Whale” that I have ever been privileged with.

After visiting Whale Rocks to see Steller’s Sea Lions, Harbor Seals, and heaps of cormorants, we headed south to Hein Bank to scan some whale hot spots in the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Passing lots of Harbor Porpoise in this big body of water, we decided to take a chance and boat to Haro Strait in search of some Killer Whales that were currently in Canada but aiming for the United States. Since we are unable to cross the border, we posted up on the U.S. side in hopes they came near, giving our customers the best possible position for viewing something black and white. Since these were the only Killer Whales reported for the day, we hung out here for a while educating our guests on the beautiful creatures while scanning the horizon.

After a while, we made the decision to continue north and scan for other whales to keep giving our guests the greatest odds. Since no whales are tagged, we must keep covering ground looking for whatever could be passing through our waters. This was the best decision and worked in our favor. Not far, off the southern side of Stuart Island, we spotted Bigg’s Killer Whales breaching, lunging, lob tailing, cartwheeling- just going bananas as the clouds started to cover the sky and a light sprinkle began to fall.

This excited family group comprised of three whales known as the T065B’s. The female matriarch was born in 1993 and traveling with her two children: a male born in 2011 and a young calf born in 2019. We were not only the first boat on scene, but we witnessed remarkable feeding as well as playful behavior. This left for many happy tears, excited faces, and all our boat feeling lucky to have come across this raw, wild behavior. Captain Gabe and I were ecstatic to be a part of this exceptional moment in the Salish Sea.