March 18- Orcas in the East

© Five Star Whale Watching/ Andrew Lees. Image — Bigg’s orcas, specifically the T2C’s, were seen travelling close to shore on the south end of San Juan Island, WA. today.

Today was a truly extraordinary day on the water, and we were able to witness some special sights and sounds of the Salish Sea! It was an exciting opportunity to show our guests the beauty and diversity of this area.

Our trip took a easterly route, and we ended up near the San Juan Islands in Washington State. On the southeast end of San Juan Island itself, near Griffin Bay, we encountered whales! These were orca whales, and of the mammal-eating ecotype, otherwise known as “Bigg’s” or “transient” orcas.

The group of at least four individuals was recognized as the “T2C” family. The whales appeared to be resting as they hugged the shoreline along the island, moving at a relatively slow pace. The sheer graze of these creatures will never cease to amaze. To our excitement, they later began to wake from their rest.

We witnessed the animals move south towards the end of San Juan Channel which sits between San Juan Island, Orcas Island and Lopez Island. The animals decided to change direction, heading north up the channel. We were fascinated to see them so peaceful in their natural habitat, travelling and surfacing together.

Before returning home we decided to show our guests another key part of this Salish Sea ecosystem. We made a stop at “Whale Rocks”, a series of small islands that commonly acts as a haul-out area for pinnipeds. Here, we saw Harbour seals and Sea Lions, top prey items for orcas such as the ones we saw!

It is always special to see the unique animals of this interconnected ecosystem. Our guests were happy to view such a diversity of interesting marine mammals, and we headed west for home after a thrilling day on the water.

To view more images from today’s trip, click on the link below:

March 18- T2C’s near Griffin Bay.


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