[7/20/2017 2pm Kestrel]
Today’s trip took us north into Canadian waters to watch two families of transient killer whales that had been spotted just north of Saturna Island in Boundary Bay. What started as a no-superb-whale reports trip turned into one of the top whale watches of the season, complete with breaches, tail slaps, and lots of orca belly rolls and headstands.
We started heading north, in the direction of a tentative report of killer whales called in by the BC ferry. We stopped at Sentinel Island first to spot for seals and bald eagles, and were lucky enough to spot both! A bald eagle flew overhead, bombarded by crows whose nest it had likely come a bit too close to. Below the cacophony of birds, two seal moms lounged on the rocky shores with their pups beside them, taking the occasional moment to nurse.
As we continued through Spieden Channel, we decided to start heading south in pursuit of a confirmed humpback whale report on the far reaches of our range, but almost as soon as we got underway we received amazing news – the orcas had been picked up!
We did a quick 180 and started north, through John’s Pass and past the beautifully lit East Point Lighthouse on Saturna Island. As we turned the corner, we were delighted to see other whale watching boats in the distance – all of which giving us up-to-date info on these killer whales.
As soon as we arrived on scene we were graced by beautifully calm waters and lots and lots of splashing! These orcas were having a ball. We observed belly rolls and tail slaps, chin, tail, and side-breaches, and spyhops. The families involved in this fiasco were identified as the T37’s and the T34’s, a total of 10 whales. As we call it in these parts, it was a true T-Party!
On our way back to Friday Harbor we stopped for a few harbor porpoise near the American/Canadian border, as well as a harbor seal that was struggling to down an especially large octopus tentacle.
The trip back was warm and calm, the perfect way to end an afternoon whale watch and wildlife tour. We arrived back in Friday Harbor just in time for dinner, with plenty of sunshine on the horizon!
Naturalist Sarah C.