Piper | August 29, 2018 | M/V Sea Hawk | 2:00 PM
This afternoon Captain Sarah, our lovely guests, and I boarded the M/V Sea Hawk in Roche Harbor and made our way into Spieden Channel and west toward a report of two humpbacks close-by. Not even 10 minutes later we were slowing our engine as we approached the scene. The humpbacks had been on a six-minute dive and we were searching in the distance to see where they’d appear when *KOOSH, KOOSH* the two behemoths surfaced directly off our bow!!
We switched off the engine immediately and watched these whales swim off our starboard side, almost able to feel their exhalations; they were incredibly majestic. As their dorsal fins broke the surface we could see them wobble back and forth, their cartilaginous composition unsupported by bone inside or water out. Once the whales were at a safe distance we paralleled them for a while, watching as they came up to the surface for breath and then arched their backs, fluking as they dove. When the whales fluked we were able to see the unique pigmentation under their tails and identify them as BCY0160 “Heather” and BCY0458 “Raptor”. We watched them a bit longer and on the final bout of surfacing the whales swam across our bow once more.
We then switched the engine back on and made our way east, there had been a report of Bigg’s killer whales off Flattop Island. When we arrived on the west side of the island we found a haul-out of harbor seals that had survived the passing-by of the marine-mammal eating orcas on the other side of the island. We continued on and as we approached the orcas it was clear they had another mammal on the menu today—they were hunting a porpoise! The orcas leapt from the water chasing the tiny cetacean down, capturing it as we arrived on scene. We then were able to watch as the animals swam from Flattop Island over to Point Disney on Waldron Island and began their movement up President Channel before turning around and heading back to Roche Harbor for the evening. What an amazing day out on the water!