Whale Watchers Marvel at Record Number of Bigg’s Killer Whales

The number may sound unbelievable

Astounding number of killer whales spotted in Salish Sea

Do you remember what you were doing on March 31? 

Marine researchers and whale lovers sure do!

A record number of Bigg’s killer whales were spotted in clusters between Hood Canal in Puget Sound and Campbell River on VanIsle. 

A whopping 72 whales were spotted over the course of one day. Ten different groups of the orcas were seen throughout the regions as reported by the Pacific Whale Watch Association.  

The largest group was seen near the northern part of the San Juan Islands, where 18 whales were clustered.

Mark Malleson, a Victoria-based researcher for the Centre for Whale Research, confirmed the new record.

“There have been days in the last decade with around 50 different Bigg’s killer whales reported, maybe 60,” Malleson told CTV News, “but Thursday was certainly the most so far.”

One of the most recognizable whales spotted Thursday was T63 Chainsaw, an adult male born in 1978.

A picture of the dorsal fin of T063 Chainsaw breaching the water on a beautiful sunny day.
Chainsaw swimming in Dodds Narrows. Photo by Ella Smiley (Facebook).

Chainsaw, known for its jagged dorsal fin, and his mother, T65 Whidbey, were seen near the American border in Haro Strait.

Bigg’s killer whales are referred to as transients as they were originally thought to just be passing through. But it turns out they really like it here!

They’re genetically different from Puget Sound’s struggling southern resident orcas that feed on chinook salmon.

Bigg’s killer whales are named as such as they hunt marine mammals. They are thriving because they feed on seals and sea lions that live in the region.