August 7, 2020

A Trip Through Deception Pass Leads to a Whale Trifecta

Bigg's Killer Whales near Whidbey Island

Olivia | M/V Kestrel | August 7th, 2020 | 14:00

The Hail Mary works again! Captain Brian and I decided to take a chance and head far south on our afternoon adventure trip in an attempt to see Killer Whales between Whidbey and Camano Islands. This was a long shot as there was no coverage on the whales and we would have to find them ourselves, in addition to going far and pushing our time limits with the four-hour trip. We decided it was worth it to give it our all for our passengers and take the chance with any opportunity to see these black and white dolphins.

Aiming for Deception Pass, we were just about to pass Burrows Bay when one of our passengers thought they spotted a tail fluke. We decided to slow down to take a quick scan and see if there was anything passing through, and BOOM- a full body breach of a Humpback Whale about 350 yards off our starboard side. This was CRAZY! Another reminder that even though we appreciate having whale rumors leaving the dock, we just never know what is out there. This was a Humpback Whale no one had spotted yet for the day and we were lucky enough to happen upon it. On our route home at the end of the trip, we stumbled upon this whale further north off James Island where no one had been aware of it. Again, spotted randomly by that tail fluking in the water!

Continuing on for Deception Pass, we crossed underneath the beautiful bridge and aimed south between the islands. Not far off Dugualla State Park we spotted a Gray Whale feeding in the shallow, muddy waters. A second surprise Baleen Whale! This trip was providing all the best surprises. This was the first Gray Whale I have personally viewed this season, as they usually hang out between Whidbey and Camano Islands before migrating south to Mexico during the winter months.

We found the T65A’s and T137’s a lot easier than expected just south of Coupeville, north of Green Bank closer to the Whidbey Shoreline. Finding two Baleen Whales and the Killer Whales a bit easier than expected made our job look way too easy and our slim chances of the Hail Mary a bit of lie. But we were grateful for it! We had all 11 members present but separated in the channel. The older adults were casually napping and milling in the same area, while the juveniles were wild chasing an auklet, spy hopping, cartwheeling, breaching, back sliding, and zipping around through the water.

We love these moments the most not just because of the wild movements we all hope to see of Killer Whales, but for the reminder of how similar a species they are. They are not just animals we see swimming in the distance or traveling from once place to another, they are a family. The adults nap midday and the children run amuck causing trouble, playing, and having fun. Isn’t that just like all of us? It is that connection to realizing we aren’t the only species that have family dynamics, empathy, emotions, adventure, free will or growth. We are merely one of many. Hopefully, this connection, this trip, this light in the middle of a crazy year, will bring peace love and acceptance to not only ourselves but other beings as well.