August 29, 2018

Surprise Killer Whales in San Juan Channel! |8/29/18|1:30PM

orca calf!

Guests aboard M/V Sea Lion along with Cpt. Pete, naturalist Erick and I were excited to get on the water on this beautiful day with a report of orcas almost within our reach. Eager to get everyone on the boat and ready to pick up speed we took off hopeful to get to see these animals.

As of earlier, only one whale sighting from way up north had been reported. With no other reports in our area, we quickly headed up the San Juan Channel with plans to take Boundary Pass into the Strait of Georgia. About 10 minutes into our trip, a boat behind us had found orca whales right in the channel we were in! Exactly where we had just came from! Quickly making a U-turn and with a laugh of relief of not having to chase the whales, we told our guests to look out for black and whites! Not too far away from where we had passed through minutes earlier, near Park's Bay of Shaw Island, were the black dorsal fins in the distance. We could see about 4 animals headed our direction so we stayed parallel to them as they headed North up the San Juan Channel.

We watched them surfaced for quite a while observing them from a distance, but as they were approaching Yellow Island, they decided to get very close to us. We could hear their exhalations and clearly see their saddle patches.We were also able to confirm who they were, identified as the T124As! Throwing us off a bit because they were missing two from their normally 6 orca matriline. Thankfully, the very young calf was there and he was so fun to watch!!

Without wanting to pull away from these whales, we finally decided to go look for some other wildlife. Hugging the coast of Flat top island, we observed some harbor seals and bald eagles before cruising back home. The islands were sunny and the green from the trees contrasting the deep blue waters was breath-taking. What a wonderful surprise from the T124As and a funny reminder to keep your eyes glued to the water or you might just miss something!

Mariana, Naturalist, San Juan Safaris