Killer whale surfacing in the San Juans

[Sarah M - 07/13/2017 – M/V Seahawk – 02:00pm]


Yesterday, Captain Pete and I took guests on the M/V Seahawk on a grand adventure from Roche Harbor in search of killer whales. As we left the harbor, the gray morning skies broke into beautiful San Juan Island blue. We cruised southeast through Spieden Channel towards San Juan Channel to cruise through the islands.


As a member of the Pacific Whale Watch Association, we are a part of and extensive whale and wildlife-sighting network that stretches out west into the Strait of Juan de Fuca, north into the Strait of Georgia, and then south into Puget Sound. We are all obligated to report information to one another about whales and other wildlife as we spot it in the surrounding waters. Yesterday we certainly benefitted from this network, as whales were reported in the early morning hours heading south through Rosario just to the east of Orcas Island.


To reach the whales we travelled through the inner islands on a lovely cruise that took us through Harney Channel and into Lopez Sound. Communicating with the other operators on the water, Captain Pete was able to pinpoint where we would be able to find the orcas. We left the inner islands through Lopez Pass and were treated to a sweeping view of Rosario Strait.


We reached the killer whales as they continued to travel south. We had a tight group of whales including some of my very favorite individuals: an adult female T037 and an adult male T051. The group also included the female T034, her first daughter, T034A, and her newest calf who is about three months old, T034B. This little munchkin was traveling right in and amongst the adults, taking turns tucked next to T037 as well as next to its mother T034. I always find it humbling to watch these new calves, thinking about how they are forming a lifelong relationship with their mothers.


After a great encounter with the orcas, we left them in search of some other wildlife. We were lucky enough to find an amazingly active bald eagle nest with a fledgling chick, and adults swooping over the water. We also had some wonderful looks at some Pacific harbor seals.