June 7, 2019

Transient Orcas near Anacortes! 06/07/19

Jordan | M/V Sea Lion | 06/07/19 | 5:30 Sunset

As we gathered for our tour, I noticed how wonderfully small our group was! We definitely were lucky to have lots of space to walk around the boat and chat with new friends! Captain Gabe and I took the Sea Lion out of Friday Harbor and headed off in search of some wildlife!

Luckily, we heard reports from other whale watching boats right off the bat! So, we sped off towards the east. We had a fantastic tour of all the islands as we wound between many of the San Juan Islands! We headed between Shaw Island and Lopez Island up towards the Lopez ferry terminal then back down through the channel between Blakely Island and Lopez, and through the Thatcher Passage above Decatur Island. Then we headed south through the Rosario Strait towards Fidalgo Island really close to Anacortes in Burrows Bay!

In Burrows Bay, we found transient orca whales! These marine mammal eating orcas were able to be identified as the T49As! This amazing pod of orca consisted of a family led by their mother T49A. We saw one giant male: T49A1 who was her first-born son. This massive whale had a towering dorsal fin that pierced the water with every breath.

Upon watching these orcas, we realized that they had caught a seal! They were incredibly excited, showing their tail fins, swimming in circles and moon walking as they shared their prey among family members! They even spy hopped upwards of 8 times, showing their entire head as they scanned the surface of the water! So incredible!

Then suddenly we notice that some shrimp pots nearby kept disappearing! The huge male was playing with the shrimp pots! Just like a kid playing with balloons, this 30-foot whale kept grabbing the line connected to the floating buoy and dragging it under the water! He watched it as it floated and bobbed  back to the surface and then did it again! I knew that orcas were playful animals, but I’ve never seen this behavior before! Really special!

Eventually we headed back towards San Juan Island. But, what a magical day! Everyone on board left with huge smiles.