A Transient (Mammal-Eating) Orca

[08/18/17- M/V Sea Hawk- Kelsey, Naturalist- 2:00PM]

It was almost too easy, today! M/V Sea Hawk cruised out of Roche Harbor in search of whales and other awesome wildlife, and it only took a matter of minutes to reach the west side of Speiden Island where some transient (or mammal-eating) orcas were mingling. We had hoped to see whales, but we soon saw much more than just that! We saw whales come up RIGHT to our boat!

We had our engine off and were watching them milling about and circling one another, slowly moving west in their family pod of 6. Suddenly, they had a turn of direction, and slowly moving against the tide, we had the whales approaching us at the bow of our boat! They lingered and slowed just FEET from us, loudly exhaling and splashing and peering up at us. Going against the tide, we got longer looks as they slowly moved past. Two adult females were present, a mom and daughter, and four little juveniles were in tow. We had such great looks at their saddle patches and dorsal fin notches that we could identify them as the T46B’s.

T46B was the matriarch leading the crowd, and they pushed past us and just as they were out of reach, a member of the pod spyhopped just in front of us! A youngster must have been just too curious and had to get the best look possible at us. They moseyed past us and we watched from afar, shaking from our close encounter. We saw the youngsters chasing sea birds, tail-splashing amongst siblings, and darting in circles around one another. It was quite energizing to see such great enthusiasm and personality from them.

We had a great chunk of time with these whales, and after getting our fill, we waved the whales goodbye and went in search of bald eagles, harbor seals, Mouflon sheep on Speiden Island, and other various sea birds and jellyfish. Nothing, though, could truly top our close looks at killer whales!