Our friend Captain Jim Maya of Maya’s Westside Charters photographed a gray orca whale calf last week while operating a whale watching tour from San Juan Island. The baby killer whale was discovered south of Victoria in a family of transient-type orcas identified as the T-11 pod.
Ken Balcomb at the Center for Whale Research believes that orca whales with this rare gray coloration are found about once a decade in the Salish Sea of Washington and British Columbia. Sadly, he thinks it is associated with a fatal genetic condition (Chediak-Higashi syndrome) that affects both whales and humans and doesn’t expect the calf to live more than a few years.
Our killer whale watching kayak trips in the San Juan Islands pass by Ken’s research center on a daily basis during the spring through fall whale watching season. We also keep in close communication with Jim and other whale watch tour operators to stay abreast of the various orca pods locations and activities.