June 12, 2019

T123 Bigg's Killer Whales in San Juan Channel and Humpbacks Slate and Calf in Boundary Pass!

Piper | Wednesday, June 12, 2019 | M/V Kestrel | 11:00 AM

Today was another wonderfully sunny and warm day in the San Juans and as we were getting suited up to get on the colder waters off-island, a report of Bigg’s killer whales came through the radio! So Captain Gabe and I loaded up on Kestrel with some awesome folks and headed north in San Juan Channel! Right off the bat we saw an awesome bald eagle resting on the trees outside the marina, scanning the waters for food! We stopped for a bit to have an awesome look before continuing! We met up with the orcas at Green Point on Spieden Island and paralleled them down the east coast of San Juan Island past Rocky Bay. These orcas were the T123’s, a family of four mammal-eating orcas consisting of mom T123, known as Sidney, T123A “Stanley”, her 19-year-old son, T123C “Lucky”, a seven-year-old, and T123D, a baby first seen last October! We gave these orcas our own names on the water, though! We watched these guys for a bit before peeling away to see other wildlife!

We headed back north through New Channel and spied some Mouflon sheep on the north coast of Spieden Island! They were down along the water line capturing fresh water as it falls into the Salish Sea. We kept going into John’s Pass and into Boundary Pass, scanning the waters all the way from Turn Point over to Java Rocks where we slowed down to view some harbor seals and bald eagles on the rocks but as we slowed we spied two humpback whales surfacing in front of us!


BCX1210 "Slate" and calf. Photo credit: Tori Lee
BCX1210 "Slate"s calf waving its pectoral fin. Photo credit: Tori Lee

These humpback whales were a mom, known as BCX1210 “Slate”, and her calf! This is Slate’s first calf and it was super cute today as we watched the calf rolling around at the surface, tossing its little pectoral fins in the air! These humpbacks swam into the new no-go-zone on the south side of Saturna Island so after a while we headed south again. We were spotting harbor porpoises all over the place and some more harbor seals on the rocks of Skipjack Island before passing through President Channel and down San Juan Channel. The orcas from the beginning of the trip were now just south of Friday Harbor so we went down to see them again before heading into the marina. Down here we saw them begin to take down a meal! They all surfaced in different directions in a tight group, and one of them spyhopped twice! Soon we went back into Friday Harbor with another awesome day in the books!