September 9, 2021

The T018 Biggs Killer Whale Matriline in Rosario Strait

Abby | M/V Kestrel | 2pm | 9/9/2021

Captain Solan and I slipped out of the harbor, deliberately cruising south through San Juan Channel to spot many different species, including:

  • Steller Sea Lions
  • Harbor Seals
  • Double-Crested Cormorants
  • Pelagic Cormorants
  • Glaucous-Winged Gulls
  • Marbled Murrelets
  • Pigeon Guillemots

As we were viewing a large congregation of birds feasting on a bait ball, Solan and I received word of a family of Biggs (transient) killer whales heading north through Rosario Strait. So, we set our course for the eastern side of Orcas Island.

Below is a list of the matriline we were viewing, with the main bullet point indicating the matriarch (or more notably, the mother in a specific family group) with all her offspring in order of birth and alphanumeric identification below her.

  • Esperanza T018 (1955, Female)
    • Nootka T019 (1965, Female)
      • T019B Galiano (1995, Male)
      • T019C Spouter (2001, Male)

As you can see, this was a three-generational family! It’s made up of a grandma, her daughter, and her two grand-kiddos who are some of the largest males in our entire population! Galiano is a big boy, who grew very quickly and even has a very prominent curve at the tip of his six foot dorsal fin.

Overall, quite a magical day watching this family hunt and go about their whaley business. We even got a cheeky spy hop out of the experience! Definitely a family worth remembering; it’s not every day that we see a three-generational family.