July 22, 2019

A Wild Invasion of Bigg's Killer Whales!

Bigg's Killer Whales in the Salish Sea

Olivia | July 22nd, 2019 | M/V Kestrel | 11:00am

Despite the beautiful sunshine, Olympic mountain range silhouetting the southern horizon, and Mount Baker proudly standing above the San Juan Islands, we ended up having fairly rough seas as we headed out on our adventure. We left Friday Harbor aware of two potential whale sightings, one very far north and moving further away, or another south near Whidbey Island where the swells were about 3-4 feet in some areas of our travel. Captain Gabe made the decision to give our happy customers a real adventure and head inner island to move south where the sightings were more likely.

All our brave kiddos took the bow and had a blast bouncing around as we ventured south towards Point Wilson, realizing it was calmer than anticipated for most of our journey. Upon arrival, we had such an unexpected surprise! We first spotted Bigg’s Killer Whales porpoising towards us and breaching in the distance as they surfed the wave of a passing vessel. These whales are the largest dolphins and love to play in waves just like the spunky Bottlenose Dolphins we are all familiar with. All of a sudden, more Orcas popped up off to our left and our Captain immediately cut the engine as they were full speed aiming right at us to then swim underneath our boat and pop up on our Starboard side. Out of respect to the wildlife and following federal laws, we make it a point to keep a distance of 200 meters away from these mammal eating Orcas. However, they are wild and sometimes surprise us with their unpredictable movements. It is in these moments that the best thing we can do is react in an appropriate way to cause them less stress, such as turning off the engine.

We aren’t done yet! Killer Whales started showing up everywhere, we were completely surrounded by multiple family groups all around our clock. There were lobtails, breaches, spy hops, porpoising, belly flops and more; it was overwhelming in the most wonderful way! We continued to watch as lunch time moved into full effect and a small Steller’s Sea Lion jumped to safety and hung out on the red can. Not only that, but all the Orcas decided to feast!

After a while we had to make the long trek home braving the swell once again, turning into a fun ride. We even stopped at Whale Rocks to view an exceptionally large Steller’s Sea Lion towering above a bunch of wee little Harbor Seals. What a fun day on the water, come and join us for our Adventure Tours aboard M/V Kestrel to partake in all the beauty and fun the Salish Sea has to offer!