June 24, 2019

Two Families of Bigg's Killer Whales Interacting!

Erin | M/V Sea Lion | Tuesday, June 25, 2019 | 5:30 PM

What an amazing trip it was aboard the M/V Sea Lion this evening. The weather was absolutely beautiful. The water was smooth and the sun was shining bright. We left Friday Harbor and headed south toward Cattle Point, back toward the area where we had seen orcas on our previous tour. We had received some reports that those same orcas were travelling toward another pod of orcas! When we got to Cattle Point, we got some amazing views of the Cattle Point lighthouse. We then saw some Steller's sea lions hauled out on the rocks slightly southeast of the lighthouse. There were about 25 of them, most of which were sunning themselves on the rocks. However, some of them were fighting with each other and making their characteristic, low, rolling, roaring sounds. It was a treat to be able to see them, as most of them have headed towards Oregon and British Columbia in order to breed. 

We then caught sight of the large group of orcas interacting, and we only had to travel a few minutes to get to them. When we got there, we saw lots of splashing and many dorsal fins up at the surface of the water. There were males, females, and calves in the group. We were able to identify the two family pods as the T65A's and the T46B's. The T65A's are a family of 6 whales, including one "sprouting", or teenage, male and a new calf. The T46B's are a family of 8 whales, including at least one new calf, who is very light-colored. It has been confirmed to have a condition called leucism, which means that the whale is lacking pigmentation. We got to spend a significant amount of time watching the whales breach, spyhop, tail-slap, and socialize. We also got to hear them vocalizing, as we put our hydrophone in the water. They were a very noisy and rambunctious group of whales. It was a lovely evening spent in the Salish Sea. Until next time! 

Naturalist Erin