On our whale watch today we took the Kittiwake southwest of San Juan Island to follow a report of resident killer whales milling about off Eagle Point.
We arrived an scene to Doublestuff, an 18 year old male, perusing the area for fish while his mom and younger brother hung closer to shore. After some amazing looks, he started heading towards the island to meet up with the rest of his family. This small reunion was accompanied by a series of tail slaps from Doublestuff, which made an impressive noise! Him and his 31 year old mother, Oreo, traveled up and down the shoreline, likely hunting salmon below the surface. Adult orcas have to eat anywhere from 400 to 650 pounds of food every day just to maintain their body weight, and most of their catches are shared amongst their family members. Because of this, resident killer whales spend the majority of their time either looking for food or feeding.
After watching Oreo, Doublestuff, and his brother Cookie feed for a while, we turned our boat towards Lopez Island. There we found Steller’s sea lions, harbor seals, a bald eagle, great blue herons, turkey vultures, and harlequin ducks – a birders dream! With awesome looks at an amazing number of species today, we headed back to Friday Harbor to enjoy the rest of our sunny and hot afternoon.
Naturalist Sarah C.