July 28, 2019

T46's on the move in Boundary Pass and the Strait of Georgia

Erin | Sunday, July 28, 2019 | M/V Kestrel | 11:00 AM

What an incredible afternoon aboard the M/V Kestrel! The sun was shining when we left the harbor, and we were all ready for a wildlife adventure! We left Friday Harbor and headed north toward some reports of orcas in Boundary Pass. Since the reports of the whales were so close to where we were, we figured we could go and search for some other wildlife before heading towards the orcas. We went to Spieden Island and cruised along the southern shore. We spotted a bald eagle resting in the treetops, looking majestic and tall. We then came across some harbor seals that were hauled out on the shoreline. There were several harbor seal pups lying on the rocks, some that were with their mothers, and some that were waiting for their mothers. Harbor seal pups wait on shore for their mothers to return from foraging. Then, they nurse from their mothers and eventually begin to share their food with them. Harbor seal pups only stay with their mothers for about a month and a half! We also saw lots of harbor seals swimming around in the water. We even got to see a bald eagle take flight and fly from one tree to another. What a sight to see! 

We then went around to the north side of Spieden Island where we saw another bald eagle fly from one tree to another. We also got to see a couple of Mouflon sheep! They were walking stealthily along the cliffside. After starting our trip with these wildlife, we decided it was time to head toward the orcas. We went north and found the orcas travelling along the east side of Saturna Island, so they were in Canadian water! We watched them from a distance for a while, but even from a distance, we could tell that there were a couple of large males in the pod. Once they headed around East Point and went toward Tumbo Island, we were able to get some really great looks at the whales. There were at least 4 whales in the pod, and they were identified as the T46's. T46, who is the matriarch of the pod, is thought to be at least 55 years old. She has had 6 offspring of her own, she is a grandmother to 7 whales, and she is a great grandmother to 2 whales! Her eldest son is 19 years old, and he has a very tall dorsal fin. Her other son is 16, so his dorsal fin is not prominent yet. She also has a juvenile that is 7 years old. The whales were travelling very quickly throughout our whole encounter with them. Towards the end of the encounter, they began to spread apart a little bit. It is possible that they were trying to corral some prey. 

After getting some amazing looks at the T46's, we headed toward Patos Island and got a nice look at the lighthouse with Mount Baker in the backdrop. It was an awesome day out in the Salish Sea! It is always special being able to experience wildlife in its natural environment. Until next time!

Naturalist Erin