|Adult Male T11A|
Unidentified Humpback Whale
Transient Orcas – T11’s and T46B’s
California Sea Lions
We’ve had a lot of 2017 firsts in the last week – first minke whale of the year, first orcas of the year, and today, we can claim our first doubleheader of the year! We took off toward the north near prime gray whales feeding grounds, but found two unexpected surprises instead! Even though we’re in the thick of gray whale season, as we approached the southwest side of Whidbey Island, a humpback whale surfaced at our 12 o’clock position! We didn’t get to see the tail of this whale, but we did get to observe the animal for several surfacings and can say with certainty that it was not Speckles, the young humpback that we have seen several times in Puget Sound this winter. Exciting to see a new humpback “face” around the Sound! Not 10 minutes after leaving our humpback, we continued north near Point No Point and saw the tall dorsal fin of a male killer whale along with about 7 or 8 other orcas! By looking at their fins and saddle patches, we identified these as the mother/son pair T11 and T11A as well as the T46B family of transient killer whales! We were nervous as they seemed to be heading with speed in the direction of our new humpback friend, but fortunately for the whale (and unfortunately for a California sea lion), they had other plans. We watched them tussle with the sea lion and while it didn’t look fun, it appeared that they weren’t in the mood to snack and continued south, leaving the sea lion shaken (literally) at the surface. Since the orcas were heading straight for Seattle, we were able to watch them for quite a while but eventually had to part ways. We took some time for a quick stop near Blakely Rock to see some harbor seals, pigeon guillemots, cormorants, and common goldeneyes before heading back to Elliott Bay just in time for the sun to peek out from behind the clouds.
|Unidentified Humpback Whale|
|Large Male California Sea Lion|