This day was one for the record books, that's for sure. After departing Snug Harbor we cruised over the top of San Juan Island in search of some Bigg's Killer Whales that had been seen earlier. When we arrived on scene we found more than just the individuals seen earlier, and as all of the whales grouped up it was time to socialize.
As we took stock of everyone present we found we had the T36As, T99s, T93, and T97 in one group and the T65As, T65Bs, and T123s in another. Together it was twenty Bigg's killer whales! That's incredible!
Left to right: T65, T123C, T123, T65A4, T65A.
The whales were originally heading south in San Juan Channel but the T65As, T65Bs, and T123s pulled a U-turn and met up with the other group and all of them continue back northwest, aiming for Speiden Island.
T123A heading north in San Juan Channel.
As we pointed north we got some great looks at the two males, T93 and T97. These two are typically seen together though whether they're truly related or not remains unknown. T93 is estimated to have been born in 1963 and T97 was born in 1980. These two were not going to be left out of the surface-active behaviors though. Both breached, cartwheeled, and spyhopped multiple times.
T93 and T97.
T97 cartwheeling near the Prince of Whales zodiac. You truly get a feel for their size when they do this.
The whales continued to socialize and we saw many spyhops and breaches from many different whales. As we neared Speiden Channel a group of them took off porpoising in a line, coming completely out of the water, towards Green Point but stopped well short of actually reaching the island. Whatever the reason for the quick movement they would keep that mystery to themselves.
Once in Speiden Channel the whales continued to socialize, milling in a large group and changing direction with every surfacing. It seemed at one point that they might split but eventually all of them pointed west into Speiden Channel and cruised through, still socializing.
Breaching female Bigg's.
Socializing Bigg's. T65 is the female on the left with the notch at the base of her dorsal fin.
Breaching in Speiden Channel.
Decided on heading into Speiden Channel.
Socializing with San Juan Island in the background.
Young Bigg's killer whale.
As the whales moved into Speiden Channel the main group of whales continued to mingle. This included the T36As, T99s, T65As, and T65Bs. T93 and T97 followed next, but were spread, both from each other and the main social group. The T123s traveled together but brought up the rear of the group and stayed well behind.
We left them as they passed by Battleship Island but from later reports they continued their socializing as they moved north in Haro Strait into the afternoon and evening.