March 19, 2019

Whale-a-palooza: Three families of Bigg's Orca Whales hunt near Patos Island

Erick | Tuesday, March 19, 2019 | M/V Sea Lion | 12:00 


Today. We took a wonderful group of folks out on a pretty warm sunny very springtime day. Captain Pete, myself, and Alex motored south to look at Griffin Bay and saw some Harbor Seals lounging on the rocks soaking up the sun as much as we were. We did not see any whales so we turned and headed north. Right around Turn Rock we saw a Steller Sea Lion that had grabbed a Giant Pacific Octopus! He was tearing into it and swallowing arms whole. It was so cool to see the biggest sea lion eat the biggest octopus in the world. We continued up north and made a stop at Green Point on Spieden Island. Here, we saw a lot more Steller Sea Lions sunning themselves on the rocky shore. We watched them for a while as they growled at each other and crawled over each other. We headed further north past Skipjack Island and pointed towards Patos Island. Right as we passed a rock reef we started to see blows and we kept seeing more! There were so many whales! This was a super large group of Bigg’s Orcas (aka Transient Orcas). This type of orca preys only on marine mammals and is a very common sight in Washington/British Columbia Waters. They were actively hunting a eating we started to watch them. You could tell because of the huge numbers of sea gulls swarming around trying to get the leftovers. As we looked around we could see more and more orcas swimming and hunting. They soon transitioned from eating into playing around. One of the babies was riding on his mother’s back while some others were slapping their tails. One of the juveniles started to ‘moonwalk’. This is where they swim backwards! So cool! We identified this conglomeration of families as the T37A’s, the T36A’s and T36B’s, and the T101’s! So all in all around 20 whales! SO COOL! So others to the side of us were tail-slapping and one spyhopped above the surface while some of the others were swimming upside down and showing their white bellies. This was so amazing! This type of orca is usually the silent type since they hunt smart seals and sealions and they don’t want to scare them away, but it looked like they were having a loud, fun time today! After watching them for a long time and getting some wonderful views we soon had to head home. Days don’t get much better than this! We hope to see you all come out here to visit us soon!