July 29, 2022

T37A orcas put on a show in Griffin Bay

Elle | M/V Osprey | 7/29/2022 | 12:30 PM

Today was a lucky day! Just about 15 minutes after leaving Friday Harbor and heading north, we encountered a group of Bigg’s killer whales, and turned around to accompany them south. We spent some time watching this majestic family, the T37As travelling through San Juan Channel. The whales followed a bait ball, a big group of fish under the surface which attracts tons of birds and smaller marine mammals like seals and porpoises which are prey for the Bigg’s orcas. The boat traffic got a little crazy, so we headed south to see if we could find any other wildlife. At the southern end of Lopez Island, we found a group of Steller’s sea lions. These pinnipeds are migratory and usually head up to Alaska by this time in the season, but these ones have decided to stick around here! After seeing some territorial fighting by these 2,000+ pound males, we turned back towards Friday Harbor to see if we could find the T37A orca family again. We found them on the southern end of Griffin Bay, hunting or celebrating a hunt as scared harbor seals watched from the rocks. We got to see some amazing play behaviors by these whales, including tail slaps, spy hops, cartwheels, and everyone’s favorite: breaching! We were so lucky to get to see this family twice in one trip, and also catch a glimpse as some rare aerial behavior from Bigg’s killer whales!