September 20, 2017

Transient Orcas off Sidney and - Surprise! - a Humpback!

Saturday, September 16 – M/V Sea Lion – 1:30 PM Charter

The Sea Lion motored up to Roche Harbor to pick up today’s charter guests—a wedding party! And a party it was. After everyone was loaded up Captain Gabe gave the Coast Guard-mandated safety talk and we were off! We headed north, cruising between Sentinel and Spieden Islands, and spotted a group of harbor seals hauled out on Sentinel! The little rock sausages were sprawled out, taking in the heat from the sun. Continuing past Stuart Island in the direction of Gooch Island, we were on our way to a report of orcas when suddenly someone spotted a humpback just off our port side!

We took a detour to watch this incredible animal swim by, exhaling a 15-foot puff of steam and arching its back. Breath, arch… breath, arch… breath, and then… a deep dive! The humpback angled downwards and we were graced with a perfect view of its flukes as it swam into the dark depths of the Salish Sea.

We continued on and a mere five minutes later we arrived on scene with the T123s! These are a family of Bigg’s (or transient) killer whales consisting of T123 “Sidney” herself and her two offspring, T123A “Stanley” and T123C “Lucky”. The three orcas formed a tight-knit group and maneuvered gracefully amongst the rocks and bull kelp.

From the boat, we watched as Stanley’s giant black dorsal fin cut through the water and wobbled back and forth, the cartilage barely able to support the weight of itself. With mama in the lead this pack of whales made their way in the direction of Coal Island and once it was time, the Sea Lion parted with the animals and headed in the opposite direction.

Once in Roche Harbor we bid farewell to our lovely bride and groom, and their family and friends, and began our voyage home.