July 4, 2017

Transient Killer Whales Light Up the Fourth of July

Two transient killer whales spotted near San Juan Island

[7/4/17- M/V Kestrel- 2:00PM]

Happy Fourth of July, folks! The day started with a huge parade going down the main street of Friday Harbor, and then afterwards, a whale watch!

It was a scorcher today as M/V Kestrel darted out of the busy harbor in search of killer whales. Just to the north end of Lopez island, a short boat trek from San Juan Island, we immediately stopped for two bald eagles and their nest with a chick present. It was such an appropriate and patriotic way to start our trip! We admired the happy eagle family and eventually began to head back out on our decent to whales.  And sure enough, just around the corner, some transient orcas! This group was the T67A’s, and they were joined by loner male T51. About 5 whales in the pod, they were hustlin’ as they travelled north, perhaps in search of other orcas to hang with. After some time, we quietly left the group in order to meet up with… more orcas!

We slowed upon the scene, and we soon noticed there were orcas everywhere! Still the transient orcas, there were at least 4 or 5 family groups, possibly more. It was a superpod of transients! While different ecotypes of whales (for example, the Southern resident orcas versus the transient orcas, both of which are seen here in the Salish Sea) do not intermingle, individual pods of the same ecotype can commonly come together and hang out with each other for some time. This often is accompanied with mating and celebrations! One group we was even breaching and splashing and having a good time, and we even got an up-close-and-personal look at three large adult males that “mugged” our boat! It was spectacular! We watched the superpod soon break away in their separate paths of travel, and we eventually did the same, making our way back to Friday Harbor in order to enjoy the rest of the holiday. But man oh man, what’s a better way to celebrate the Fourth than with killer whales??

We hope you all had happy Fourth of July celebrations, today!