August 2, 2019

What's on the Menu Tonight? Killer Whales Dine Near Patos Island!

Bigg's Killer Whales Feed Near Patos

Laura C. | 8/2/2019 | M/V Sea Lion | 1:30pm

Today was a prime example of marine mammal hunting specialists at work!  We made our way north on M/V Sea Lion towards Patos Island to find killer whales enjoying an afternoon meal!  Our Bigg’s killer whales closely circled a carcass and passed it around to fellow family members.  This family, the T65As, have been seen frequently throughout the summer season in the Salish Sea and are taking full advantage of our plentiful harbor seal and porpoise population!  It was hard to tell what they were feasting upon; however, we could actually see red in the water and entrails!  A cluster of gulls fluttered overhead and alternated turns dipping down to pick off a free meal at the surface.  It was like watching Blue Planet live in action! 

The feeding frenzy escalated in excitement as the T65A family started tail breaching and splashing on the surface!  One individual looked up out of the water spy hopping and after checking out the scene above, enthusiastically dipped back into the water!  We also watched the calf moving through the water with her older siblings.  This calf is slightly under a year old and relies on her mother’s milk for nourishment, but it was clear that this young female was taking full part in the meal sharing and excitement of the family.  Killer whales tend to celebrate and show really exciting behavior after a well-earned meal and it was awesome that we were all able to see that in action today!  Earlier on our trip we stopped along White Rocks to see harbor seals and their pups!  Some of them were playing and going in and out of the water as they pleased.  I did think back to those adorable animals as we all watched these killer whales consuming their prey and wondered if a seal was on the menu this afternoon!