August 24, 2018

Young Transient Orcas Hunting Near Lopez Island 8/24/18 | 1:30 pm

Guests aboard M/V Sea Lion along with the crew had quite a day today! Heading out Naturalists Eric, Captain Gabe, and I were struggling to decide what group of orcas to go watch! There being a couple of reports of whales nearby from other boats, we decided to go through Upright Channel to the north side of Lopez to encounter a group. There were two young transient orca in this group traveling apart from their pod, which was further southwest. This was not typical behavior of two young orca, so we were curious to see what they were up to!

After boarding the guests, we familiarized them with the different wildlife we may encounter and the specific pods out in the area. We then got on the water right away and headed down San Juan Channel to shortly after take Upright Channel! The day was sunny and most of the smoke had left our area, although there was still some lingering, we were thankful for the visibility. In the middle of the channel near other boats, we saw two spouts and two black dorsal fins in the distance- identifying them as the two young that belong to the T65As pod. We kept our eyes on the water to see them again but this time heading south towards Lopez Island. We watched them surface a couple of times and then observed them hugging the coast line-maybe entering foraging behavior! We all patiently waited for them to come up for a breath while hugging Humphrey Head of Lopez island. After rounding this spit of land, we spotted them again, after what seemed to be a deep dive, all the way into Swifts bay! 

They had quickly entered the bay and were moving fast! We kept our eyes on the water and out in the distance from the head of they bay, we spotted lots of splashing and belly flops! Interested, our eyes were glued on the water to see what would happen next..These two were hunting what looked to be a harbor seal, splashing and rolling on top of something and aggressively moving. We watched them follow this harbor seal out of the bay, for about 20 minutes and all while heading closer to our boat. All of the sudden, we couldn’t spot them again..but then WOOOSH one surfacing right in front of our vow, and the other feet from our port side! So close by that we were even able to clearly hear a vocalization echo off our hull!

 WOW- what a day! We were then headed back home with no words and dolphinately no complaints!

Mariana, Naturalist, San Juan Safaris