June 20, 2021

T049A Bigg's Killer Whale Matriline Outside Friday Harbor!

Abby | Kestrel | 6/20/2021

Captain Brian, Captain Eric, and I left Friday Harbor looking for the same matriline that we saw this morning. On the way, we saw some new harbor seal pups off Turn Island. Somehow, we had amazing luck right after this viewing, because some Bigg’s killer whales were right next to Jackle’s Lagoon on San Juan Island! We drifted in the water with the engine off for some time while we listened to the exhales of the T049A matriline:

  • T049A (Female, 1986)
    • T049A1 (Male, 2001)
    • T049A2 (Male, 2007)
    • T049A3 (Male, 2011)
    • T049A4 (Male, 2014)
    • T049A5 (Female, 2017)

The only orca of the six that wasn’t present from this matriline was T049A2 (Male, 2007). This could have been for several reasons, although it isn’t uncommon for orcas to travel a few miles apart at times, always circling back to mum at some point.

After seeing these orcas, we went by Shark Reef on Lopez Island where we saw three bald eagles and a harbor seal. Then we headed over to Whale Rocks and viewed some regal Steller’s sea lions and harbor seals (including more seal pups!). Finally, we saw some double-crested cormorants on their nests and an egg yolk jellyfish before heading to see the orcas once more.

We were able to re-watch this orca matriline for another forty minutes, right after they had a successful hunt. By far my most ecologically diverse trip of the season with incredible guests and wildlife.