An Epic Day on the Water with a Superpod of Transient Killer Whales!

 Anacortes

Today was truly one of the best days of the year from Anacortes as we had an amazing experience with orcas for many, many hours! We left the dock under sunny skies and turned to the south as a group of whales was reported near the south end of Rosario Strait. Along the way we stopped to visit a California sea lion that was hauled out on a marker. After crossing under the Deception Pass Bridge, we encountered the orcas as they were swimming into the very strong currents of this narrow channel. There were twenty killer whales total in the area, and it was one of the coolest spots in the region to watch them! We saw T36/36B/36B1, T34/34A, T65/65B/65B1, T63(aka Chainsaw), T87, T90/90B/90C, T124/124D/124E, and T101/102/101A/101B. An incredible transient orca Superpod! The channel under the Deception Pass Bridge is one of the most beautiful spots in the region, and an area where I have never had the opportunity to watch whales. The tidal currents here can rage at 6-8 knots, making this a very wild spot to visit. The entire group was pointed west, and pushing straight into the massive flow of water. They would all surface together at times, and even with all of their power they were being pushed backwards in the strong rip. There were many small calves in the group, and it was just amazing watching them work into the current, swimming hard, but staying in the same place. If you’ve ever seen one of those standing wave machines that allows you to surf a constant wave continually, this is what it reminded me of. Fortunately, the action got hot as the whales seemed to almost enjoy the huge rush of water meeting them head-on. We saw breaches and tail-lobs from several of the animals! It was thrilling and I have got to tell you, I was shaking while watching this amazing display! It was that cool! Eventually, the large group turned from the currents and started heading east, leaving the T101’s (a family group of four) to negotiate the tides of the pass. We stuck with the large group and watched them travel for the next portion of our trip. They were in a tight group with T63 Chainsaw always close by. T87 swam close to the group, but was always at least 100 yards from the others. We had a great visit with these whales, and watched them along the eastern shores of Whidbey Island for some time before turning back to find the others. Apparently, the T101’s had not moved very far, and had just made it under the bridge westbound when we caught up to them. We watched this mom and three large males travel north for quite awhile, as they literally took us right back toward Anacortes. We had so much time with the whales today, and with such beautiful conditions, how could it not be an awesome day? Throw in the spectacular scenery of Deception Pass and the fantastic behaviors of the killer whales, and this trip was an A+!!!

-Michael Colahan

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