July 7, 2019

The T65A's get a nice meal in the Strait of Georgia!

Erin | M/V Sea Lion | Sunday, July 7, 2019 | 5:30 PM

What a wonderful evening we had in the Salish Sea! When we left Friday Harbor, the rain was starting to slow down and we could see the sun trying to peak out of the clouds. We were excited because we were heading to the area we had seen orcas in on our previous trip. We headed north out of Friday Harbor and saw lots of harbor porpoises as we headed through San Juan Channel. They were popping up all around our boat and everyone was becoming expert at spotting them. We went around the west side of Waldron Island and eventually started to see Skipjack Island coming into view. Ahead of us, we could barely glimpse out a few dorsal fins up at the water's surface. It was time for the orca adventure to begin! 

We were in the presence of the Bigg's killer whale family pod known as the T65A's. As we continued to watch the whales come up to the surface, they began to get a little playful. The calf in the group, T65A6, was rolling around on top of all of the older whales. At one point, we got to see a whole killer whale face come out of the water in a spyhopping fashion! It was absolutely incredible. The whales then started to get closer to the tip of Patos Island, and once they got there, two of them starting porpoising north. We could see lots of harbor porpoises coming to the surface in the tidal currents surrounding us, so we had a pretty good guess of what the whales were after. Once we caught up to them, we could see a tiny dorsal fin surfacing in front of the whales every so often. Eventually, after a swift battle, the whales came out with a prize: dinner for them and the rest of their family. The whales that were responsible for the hunt were T65A3 and T65A4. T65A3 is a 12 year old male, and T65A3 is his little sister. We left the scene as T65A4 carried the harbor porpoise back towards the rest of his family moving south toward Patos Island. It was so interesting to see the whales work together as a pod and hunt so effectively. It was a good learning experience. As we headed back toward Friday Harbor, we got to see a beautiful sunset and soak in the sunshine. Until next time, folks! 

Naturalist Erin