Whale Tales – Peregrines, Humpbacks & Orcas

By Captain Ken Rea

Yesterday’s weather was not great, today we had Peregrine Falcon Humpbacks and Orcas. Multiple Orca pods. We saw two pods and there were three other pods the fleet was seeing.

We also stopped by to see the Black Oystercatcher chicks with the sunny sky but instead found a Peregrine Falcon trying to nab them from their nest. The adult black oystercatchers were going nuts attacking the falcon and offering themselves as bait to get the falcon away from their young

We began by viewing a Humpback Whale known as Anvil in Rosario Strait (its ID is officially MMZ0007). We stayed with him for several surfacings until we heard the water conditions with the T46s was starting to get choppy. I left Anvil and proceeded north to be with the T46s in Georgia Strait. It was getting pretty lumpy, but we stayed with them for quite a while waiting for another whale-watch vessel to arrive.

We made our way back towards Friday Harbor and I stopped off where we saw the chicks the previous day. The parents were crying non-stop and I thought at first it was us, but we were not even close yet. Then I noticed a Peregrine Falcon on a log right above the chick’s nest. Mom and Dad were dive-bombing the falcon trying to lure it away, even offering themselves as bait. They stirred the falcon up several times, but it always returned to the nest. We never saw the chicks which must have followed mom and dads’ advice and stayed hidden in the rock cleft.

I will have to return another time to get sunny pics of the chicks, assuming the falcon did not get them. After enjoying the acrobatic show with the falcon and oystercatchers, we headed back to Friday Harbor. However, on the way, I saw that another pod of orca that was picked up south of the island was now traveling north in San Juan Channel, so I asked if my guests were game for another pod of orca even though we were already late returning to the dock. They were, so we continued on and met up with the T77s. We stayed with them until they passed Seal Rocks loaded with seals hoping for a nice evening snack but they just kept swimming on by. We left them and lost sight as they were approaching Friday Harbor and we made our way to the dock.

It was a fantastic day, a big change from yesterday when we knew we had a pod close but did not find them and knowing they must have traveled south into rough seas where none of us were willing to go.

Photos by Ken Rea.

Ken Rea, owner and operator of the Spirit of Orca, is also the tour guide, photographer and naturalist on his Whale Watching and Wildlife Tours in the Salish Sea, San Juan Island, Washington.

To learn more about Captain Ken, visit https://spiritoforca.com

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