Spyhop of a Southern Resident Killer Whale

Spyhopping Southern Resident Killer Whale off of Henry Island, WA

Sunday mornings, especially on holiday weekends, are my favorite times to be at Roche Harbor. The excitement in the air is palpable, usually the sun is shining in a bright blue sky, and we have the chance to welcome and host a group of very enthusiastic people.

This Labor Day weekend was no different. On our 11am departure we had a group of our Southern Resident Killer Whales reported off the Westside of San Juan Island. We were treated to an awesome encounter with members of two of the local pods: J pod and K pod.

The stars of the day were the K12 matriline, lead by matriarch K12 Sequim. We had the unique opportunity to hear the whale surface vocalizing as they came up to breathe, rolling around and tactilely socializing. I was particularly interested to see K37 Rainshadow, who has gotten so big over the past year. This male is what we call a sprouter, just now starting growing that massive, 6-foot-tall dorsal fin that male orcas are known for.

We watched the whales socialize, spyhopping and loving on one another, and then it was time to start making our way back up island towards Roche Harbor. On the way back towards the harbor we had numerous great looks at harbor porpoises, harbor seals, and even a bald eagle soaring over our boat!

Just another spectacular day in the San Juans!

Lead Naturalist Sarah, M/V Seahawk, San Juan Outfitters