Did you know that orcas, like humans are very family oriented? You have probably heard of ‘’pods before which is a word that usually describes a group of any species of whale, but in orcas especially the Southern Resident Ecotype, pods resemble large extended families. The smaller groups of orcas within these pods are referred to as matrilines. Matrilines consist of the matriarch (the oldest female) and her offspring, sometimes even several generations of offspring. This matriarch is in charge of her matriline even if there are other adult females or adult males in it. Yesterday (Friday) Captain Jim, myself, and a much of lovely people from all over the country got to see one particular matriline. We headed south from Roche Harbor along the west side of San Juan Island. This are called the Haro Strait is one of the best places to find the Southern Resident Orcas since they mainly eat salmon and salmon if they are here swim along this western shore towards the north. On our way south we stopped and saw one young Humpback Whale and a Minke Whale feasting on plankton. As we neared Pile Point we saw two black dorsal fins slicing through an impressive rip along the point. It was L22 (Spirit) and L89 (Solstice) Foraging for salmon along this small bit of shoreline. They were absolutely awe inspiring in the flattest water I’ve ever seen here doing deep dives for fish and coordinating with each other to catch more and more fish. Solstice is a large adult male and Spirit is his mother and he, like all the other Southern Residents will stay with her and her family until she passes away. So the next time you think about orcas I hope you think of some comparisons between their family bonds and your own. Until next time!


Naturalist Erick


M/V Seahawk

San Juan Outfitters