August 15, 2020

Two Bigg's Orca Families Travel Strait of Juan de Fuca! (T65As & T137s)

Bigg's Orcas

Erick | M/V Kestrel | August 15, 2020 | 2:00PM

 

It was another super beautiful, sunny day out here in the San Juan Islands. Capt. Brian and I took a group out to go searching for some of our exciting local wildlife. We started by going south through San Juan Channel and into Cattle Pass! We made a stop at Whale Rocks in Cattle Pass. Here we saw about a dozen huge Steller Sea Lions. Some were rolling around in the water, while others were asleep on the rocks and dozing off in the afternoon sunlight. We could also see some of their smaller relatives the Pacific Harbor Seals also sunning themselves on the rocks. The major distinction between seals and sea lions (eared seals) are that sea lions can walk around on land using their flippers while true seals cannot do that. We next continued south over Macarthur Bank and towards Whidbey Island. We met up with a group of Orcas just off the coast of Whidbey Island and it was great! There were around 8 individuals swimming together from 2 different family groups! As we arrived, they started porpoise-ing south. This is when they quickly burst out of the water like a bullet. This is how they get to their quickest speed which can be faster than 30 knots. They did this for a few times and then stopped suddenly and grouped up tight. When they did this, we got some great looks at them. This was the T65As and two of the T137s travelling together! We got some great look as they continued south. These two families have been traveling together the past 2 weeks and sometimes small groups, like the middle children, will split off and travel on their own for awhile then join back up. Then this past week these two families split and traveled with two different families and now today they were back together!! It was so cool seeing these amazing Bigg’s Orca families. We made one more stop on the way home at Smith Island. Here we got to see one of my favorite birds the Tufted Puffin! These cuties have bright orange beaks and bright blonde feather over their faces making them look like blonde surfers. There are only a few that live here but it looks like their population is slowly growing which is super exciting because they are endangered and extremely beautiful. Whale folks, that was another magical day in the San Juan Islands!

 

Stay Whale folks,

Erick

Tufted Puffin