*Transient orca brothers T125A and T128
*Humpback BCY0324 “Big Mama” and calf
*An older calf of “Big Mama”, BCZ0298 “Split Fin”
Not only did we snag a double-header today with both transient killer whales and humpbacks, but our sightings were all about siblings today!
We started our tour rounding Ediz Hook and heading out forward the central Strait of Juan de Fuca in search of some humpback whales that have been in the area recently. While slowing to look for humpback spouts, however, a keen-eyed passenger spotted a lone male orca, T128. It was a fantastic surprise, and we were able to get some good looks to ourselves before other boats arrived.
While watching T128, we saw a much larger spout in the distance and decided to investigate. Happily, this spout belonged to a crew favorite, humpback whale BCY0324, “Big Mama”, and once closer we saw a second smaller spout that we’d missed before – her 2016 calf that many have come to know as “Pop-Tart” because of his or her energetic personality. We were lucky enough to see some synchronized dives from mom and baby and even got to see Big Mama do a cartwheel, tossing her tail in the air. After a few minutes watching the mom and calf duo, we noticed a third spout just a few hundred yards away… it was BCZ0298, “Split Fin”, Big Mama’s calf from 2006! Whether purely coincidence or not, it was sure neat to see Big Mama and two of her offspring all in one spot.
Satisfied with our luck, we started heading home, but noticed some more activity between us and Port Angeles Harbor – it was our old pal T128 from earlier in the trip, but he wasn’t alone – he’d met up with his brother, T125A! Interestingly, just like Pop-Tart and Split Fin, these siblings are also 10 years apart according to records, with T128 being born in 1988 and T125A coming along in 1998. These brothers have been spotted a few times throughout the Salish Sea in the last couple of weeks.
I was able to snap just a few photos before my camera had an unfortunate meeting with some salt-spray, but luckily while my lens took a timeout to dry, another PAWW Naturalist, Lee, was aboard on her day off to fill in the blanks, so look for her photos to come soon!
Thanks for another great day on the water!