August 9, 2021

Two Biggs Killer Whale Matrilines Cut Through Glassy Waters

Abby | M/V Sea Lion | 8/9/2021

As usual, Captain Pete and I have the best luck. With multiple matrilines traveling through the islands, we had our pick of the pod. We decided to travel towards the T037A’s, one of my favorite Biggs killer whale family groups, which has a total of six members, although only five were present:

  • Volker T037A (Female, 1994)
    • Inyo T037A1 (Gender Unknown, 2007)—Not present today
    • Inky T037A2 (Male, 2009)
    • Spinnaker T037A3 (Male, 2013)
    • Crinkle T037A4 (Gender Unknown, 2015)
    • New Calf! (Gender Unknown, 2019)

We started off just north of Pole Pass, waiting to see if they would come through. It was too narrow for any vessels to remain on-scene with them as they headed through, and we were the only boat on the other side. We cut the engine and waited for an exhale. Finally, one of our passengers pointed out the orcas at our 11 o’clock, and we all rushed to the port side of the vessel. It always amazes me to hear the breath of such a large animal echoing off the island rock faces.

After spending some time with this family, we headed off past Waldron Island in search of a family group I have personally never seen before; the T099’s.

  • Bella T099 (Female, 1984)
    • Holly T099B (Gender Unknown, 2007)
    • Barakat T099C (Gender Unknown, 2009)
    • T099D (Gender Unknown, 2015)

The T099’s are made up of a group of four that commonly travel together. When we came into their vicinity, they were traveling in two pairs separated by about a half nautical mile. T099B had some very prominent nicks in their dorsal fin, making that individual very easy to identify. We spent over 20 minutes watching these whales cut through the glassy surface before heading south towards the harbor.

On our journey back, porpoises dotted the horizon, and harbor seals watched us pass from the rocky shoreline. The sun was lower on the skyline, allowing rays to beam through the trees which also happened to be reflecting off the water’s edge. It was shaping up to be a beautiful sunset, a perfect end to an already abundantly beautiful day.